The pro-democracy chairman of Kwai Tsing district council, Sin Chung-kai, has accused the authorities of using "political and administrative means" to prevent councillors from doing effective anti-epidemic work in their communities.
Speaking on RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong programme, he said the Home Affairs Department had stopped councils from handing out face masks and disinfectant spray, and that the Department of Health had refused to attend council meetings to discuss matters such as the management of designated quarantine hotels.
Sin said that this -- combined with the pandemic which has prevented many community programmes from taking place -- has caused the district council to lost its "splendour"
He said the heavy defeat of pro-establishment candidates in the 2019 elections had prompted new tactics from the govenrment.
"The Home Affairs Department now uses various political and administrative means to obstruct or even prohibit various initiatives contributing to the well-being and livelihood of the district's citizens," Sin said.
"The sad thing is that District Officers are not driving a more efficient District Council, instead, they have become the spearhead to demise the functioning of the District Councils."
Sin also warned that after pan-democratic lawmakers resigned from Legco, the government could take advantage by pushing through changes that could narrow the scope and function of councils.
He urged district councilors to be aware of Beijing's "red lines" to reduce their chances of being disqualified.
Sin’s comments come after it was reported last week that the National People’s Congress Standing Committee may declare that district councillors must take an oath of allegiance, and could move to scrap their 117 seats on the Committee that chooses the chief executive.
He urged fellow councillors not to give up and to keep doing their best to serve their communities.
"We do not have many options. We must resist and persist. We need to be aware of the red line laid down by the Beijing government," Sin said.
"We should never give up and do not cross the red line. We should work smart to reduce the chances of being disqualified. This is not an era of sensible reasoning."