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Stay out of HK polls, protesters tell Beijing

2020-08-09 HKT 14:16
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  • Stay out of HK polls, protesters tell Beijing
Protesters from the League of Social Democrats demonstrated outside the central government's liaison office on Sunday, urging Beijing officials not to get involved with arrangements for the Legislative Council.

The demonstration came as members of the National People's Congress Standing Committee concluded their discussion in Beijing on how Legco should operate in the year ahead, after next month's elections were postponed. They are expected to vote on a proposal on Tuesday.

The group continued their protest despite being hit with fixed penalty notices by police officers, who said they had violated a ban on gatherings of more than two, implemented to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said the Basic Law made it clear that Legco arrangements were purely a matter for the SAR.

"According to the Basic Law, we enjoy a high degree of autonomy," he said. "Only those affairs relating to foreign affairs or military operations will be decided by the central government," Leung said.

"All the internal affairs, like elections, should be decided by Hong Kong people according to the Basic Law. We enjoy the freedom of election, so there is no point in anyone on this earth sitting above us and making decisions for us about our electoral arrangements."

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced last month that the September 6 elections would be delayed for a year due to a recent surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

She said it would be for the NPC Standing Committee to decide how Legco would operate in the intervening year.

One possibility is that the existing Legco will have its term extended for a year, though there have been suggestions that four pan-democrats who were banned from running in the next elections could lose their places.

Meanwhile, Leung also said he was concerned about the administration's move to describe last year's anti-extradition bill protests as "anti-government riots".

The term appeared in a government statement on Saturday regarding US sanctions against Lam and 10 other Hong Kong and mainland officials.

Leung said he is worried the new terminology being used indicates that people involved in such protests could be prosecuted under the national security law.