China’s top legislature has made a unanimous decision to allow the entire Legco to stay on for a year, now that the elections have been postponed until next September.
According to the decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), four pro-democracy lawmakers will be able to retain their seats even though they were barred from running in the now-postponed polls for the next council.
The NPCSC announced that all incumbent lawmakers will continue to perform their duties for "no less than one year" after the current Legco term ends on September 30.
The next Legco election is now slated for September 2021.
Hong Kong’s sole representative on the NPCSC, Tam Yiu-chung, said Tuesday's announcement means the SAR government will not have to ask for another decision from Beijing even if that vote is again affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NPCSC decision also states that the next Legco term – its seventh -- will last for four full years.
The one-year extension of the current Legco term fills a vacuum until next year's elections, which could have led to constitutional and legal problems for the government.
Incumbents Dennis Kwok, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung were barred from running in September 6 Legco election, on grounds that they did not comply with the national security law. That had sparked debate about their immediate future. Even key members of the pro-Beijing camp aired different views, with some saying they should not be allowed to retain their status while others said it would be a “disproportionate” decision to kick them out of the council.
But the top legislature of the country, which wrapped up its four-day session in Beijing, decided to allow for the status quo to remain.
Tam Yiu-chung also said the decision on Tuesday does not have a bearing on the functions of Legco. He said the SAR government is free to make arrangements on the council's operations.
He also rejected suggestions that the decision could pave the way for the current Legco term to last beyond next year and for elections to be put off indefinitely, saying it dealt only with the vacuum created by the one-year election delay.
Last updated: 2020-08-11 HKT 18:12