HK's democratic primaries 'sabotaged' upcoming elections: China's liaison office

Pandemic, political repression did not stop 600,000 Hongkongers from pursuing democracy

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People in Hong Kong queue up to vote in an unofficial primary for pro-democracy candidates ahead of legislative elections in September.

People in Hong Kong queue up to vote in an unofficial primary for pro-democracy candidates ahead of legislative elections in September. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China's liaison office in Hong Kong on Monday (July 13) decried the unofficial legislative primary elections for pro-democracy candidates, accusing the organizers of violating the city's new national security law.

Arranged by the Power for Democracy (PFD) political group, the primaries included candidates from pro-democracy parties as well as individual participants competing for the chance to run in the legislative council elections this September. Held from July 11 to 12, the primaries saw an estimated 610,000 people vote both online and at physical polling stations.

The turnout impressed many, especially since it followed Beijing's implementation of the national security law, gravely stifling direct democracy in the special administrative region. On July 9, the secretary for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB), Tsang Kwok-wai (曾國衛), threatened that those who organized and voted in the primary might all have done so in violation of the security law, hk01 reported.

On July 10, police barged into the office of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, which designed the primary voting system, saying they suspected its computer system had been hacked, causing the leak of personal information. The police did not confiscate the computers but successfully delayed the primaries, which wound up starting at noon on July 11.

Hong Kong authorities on June 13 alleged the primaries had been manipulated and thus produced unfair results. Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) claimed the government had received complaints from a number of citizens, and the CMAB has initiated its investigation into possible illegal conduct.

Beijing's liaison office stated its support for the Hong Kong government while portraying the coordinator of the primaries, Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai (戴耀庭), as a dissident trying to seize power over the governance of Hong Kong.

"The primary, held by the opposing parties with the support of the foreign powers, severely challenged the current election system and sabotaged the fairness of the legislative election. It even took this chance to acquire a huge amount of personal information from the citizens and voters, which possibly violates the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance." the liaison office said.

Tai, on the other hand, rejected the accusation in a statement, pointing out that experts from the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data had reviewed the voting system. In addition, voters had voluntarily provided the necessary information to confirm their right to vote in their constituencies, according to hk01.

According to the numbers published by the PFD, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) topped the constituency of Kowloon East with 31,398 votes. Former Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho (何桂藍), incumbent legislator Roy Kwong (鄺俊宇), and district councilor Lester Shum (岑敖暉) also won tickets to join the legislative elections.

The PFD is still counting the remaining ballots collected from voting stations to consolidate the final results.