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Hong Kong elections: set up polling stations for locals based in Greater Bay Area to cast votes, pro-establishment heavyweight urges


a view of a city: The Greater Bay Area is China’s plan to set up an economic powerhouse by integrating 11 cities. Photo: Martin Chan

© SCMP The Greater Bay Area is China’s plan to set up an economic powerhouse by integrating 11 cities. Photo: Martin Chan

Hongkongers based across the border should be allowed to vote in the city’s future elections through polling stations set up in Guangdong, a pro-establishment heavyweight said on Sunday.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), made the comments after the city’s Legislative Council elections were postponed for a year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have been calling on the public to move to (mainland cities) in the Greater Bay Area,” Tam told a television show, denying the suggestion would be in favour of the pro-establishment camp.

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Hong Kong leader says support for election delay broad, but city ready for backlash

He was referring to Beijing’s plan to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in Guangdong into a technological and economic powerhouse rivalling Silicon Valley. Tam’s comments echoed remarks made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor a day earlier, who pointed out that voters’ rights could be compromised under Covid-19 border restrictions.

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“Can we allow residents to vote in Hong Kong elections too by setting up polling stations in major mainland cities?” he said, arguing that current electoral rules stipulating that eligible voters were those who “ordinarily reside in Hong Kong” should be relaxed.

“Society has changed,” Tam said. “What these people in the bay area do are relevant to Hong Kong. The laws should adapt to the changing environment.”


Tam Yiu-chung wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole NPCSC delegate. Photo: AP

© Provided by South China Morning Post Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole NPCSC delegate. Photo: AP

Tam said the administration should also introduce new measures such as electronic or postal voting and priority queues for elderly people in the coming year.

Lam on Friday announced the postponement of the quadrennial Legco polls for a year, a decision which drew the ire of opposition politicians and criticism from Western countries.

Her announcement came a day after election officials banned 12 opposition activists – including four incumbent lawmakers considered to be moderate – from running in the polls.

Hong Kong’s looming Legco vacuum sparks debate in Lam’s inner circle

China’s top legislative body would step in to rule on legal issues stemming from the vacuum that would be created by pushing back the elections from September 6 this year to September 5, 2021.

Tam on Sunday said it should be up to the NPCSC, which will meet again from Saturday to next Tuesday, to decide whether the four disqualified incumbent lawmakers – Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of Civic Party, alongside accountancy lawmaker Kenneth Leung – could continue serving during the “vacuum period” from 2020-21. He admitted the current situation was “a bit embarrassing”.


a crowd of people standing in front of a fence: People in Hong Kong's Lam Tin queuing up to vote during the 2016 Legco elections. Photo: Sam Tsang

© Provided by South China Morning Post People in Hong Kong’s Lam Tin queuing up to vote during the 2016 Legco elections. Photo: Sam Tsang

His remarks appeared to contradict Lam, who said on Friday that the two matters – disqualification from the Legco race and the continuation of lawmakers’ terms in the vacuum – could be handled separately.

Tam added: “This is what the Hong Kong government has thought – but does the NPCSC hold the same view?” He said the top legislative body would carefully make a decision in line with the spirit of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, after assessing all factors.

Opposition purge ‘clear sign Hong Kong government determined to keep power’

Civic Party’s Yeung strongly slammed the situation as a “typical dilemma” created by those in power which could have been completely avoided in the first place.

“It reflects the fact of emotions over logic when it comes to making important political decisions. Obviously they did not think ahead or could not care less about all possible situations,” he said.

Kenneth Leung, another incumbent legislator whose candidacy was invalidated, argued that the government should have resolved the matter – be it the polls postponement or the fate of the four disqualified lawmakers – in accordance with city laws, instead of leaving it to Beijing.

Leung also questioned Tam’s proposal on electoral arrangements, saying it was “strange” to grant special treatment only to those living in the Greater Bay Area. Residents living in other countries should also be treated equally if the rules were to be relaxed, he said.

Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post’s Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post’s newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict. Buy directly from SCMP today for HKD$198. Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is also available at major bookshops worldwide and online through Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, and eBooks.com.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source: MSN

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