To save his bid for a position as head of a village, lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has accepted China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong in a letter to election officials.
The localist, who in the past has advocated for the city’s self-determination, also said his stance in the past did not mean he supported Hong Kong independence.
On Tuesday, Chu elaborated on his response to questions by the returning officer for the upcoming rural representative election for the non-indigenous villagers’ head post at Yuen Kong Sun Tsuen, in Yuen Long.
Chu, who gave a written reply by Tuesday’s 4pm deadline, criticised the authorities for exercising “political screening”, but said he had satisfied the returning officer’s demand for answers anyway. He threatened to sue the authorities should he be banned from taking part in the election.
“I am already a serving lawmaker,” Chu said. “I have taken an oath to uphold the Basic Law, and pledged allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“The additional questions posed to me regarding my participation in the village election are redundant, and only serve as an excuse in case they want to disqualify me.”
“I have sought legal advice and if I am disqualified, I may consider taking the case to the court.”
In response, the Home Affairs Department denied any “political screening”.
In a statement, the department said that in accordance with the Electoral Procedure (Rural Representative Election) Regulation, the returning officer could require a nominee to give any additional information deemed necessary for him to consider the validity of his, or her, nomination.
Chu is leading a Village Charter Alliance to contest seats in the village head elections to be held next January, with a joint platform to democratise rural politics.
The localist submitted his nomination form last Thursday, and in doing so defied the new electoral rule requiring candidates to sign a form acknowledging acceptance of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.
He said he received a letter from the returning officer on Monday, demanding the answer to five questions clarifying his political stances on Hong Kong’s status, and reconfirm his opposition to Hong Kong independence.
Chu’s reply was mainly affirmative, although on the question about his call for self-determination, Chu said he did not mean independence should be an option.
“It is only a general term to say that Hong Kong people should be allowed to decide the system of government. I have stated clearly in my reply that I oppose Hong Kong independence,” Chu said.
No other member of his alliance has been asked to answer additional questions, according to Chu, and none of them signed the new form.
Other alliance members who have submitted nomination forms included Hervé Bouvresse of Long Keng in Sai Kung; David Bewbery of Hoi Ha in Tai Po; Carol Ho Kit-yee of Pak Kong in Sai Kung; and activist Paul Zimmerman of Pan Long Wan in Sai Kung.
One member, student activist William Liu Wai-lim, of the localist party Demosisto, gave up because he could not get at least five residents in his Sheung Shui Heung village to endorse his nomination.
Nominations closed last Thursday, and the Home Affairs Department received a total of 1,858 nominations. There are 1,540 village representative seats in total.
After vetting and verifying the eligibility of the candidates, the returning officers will publish a gazette notice of valid nominations on December 6.