HK electoral reform inevitable, with policymakers suggesting a political scrutiny mechanism for candidacy
Published: Jan 21, 2021 02:07 AM

Photo: VCG

Though the ongoing session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee has not included Hong Kong-related issues on its agenda, reform of the city's electoral process has been widely discussed among Hong Kong delegates to the NPC, policy advisors and experts on Hong Kong affairs, and some suggest the need to set up a political scrutiny mechanism to make sure 'those who rule Hong Kong are patriotic.' 

There has been a strong signal for pushing forward electoral reform in Hong Kong, given some people have used the election to make a fuss in the city's political system or let foreign forces interfere in it, which needs to be rectified, a source close to the matter who preferred not to be named told the Global Times in a recent report. 

When some western media and politicians questioned the recent arrest of 53 activists over the so-called "35-plus" strategy for illegal primary elections, they failed to understand some radical forces in Hong Kong had tried to turn Hong Kong elections into a process of splitting Hong Kong society and paralyze the legal system and administrative functions of Hong Kong. And more experts and representatives from the political sphere called for drawing up and defending a bottom-line for the city's political system, where those who rule and govern the city should be patriots, and today's electoral system needs to be reformed.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, was quoted as saying in a recent media report that the electoral system in Hong Kong will see "major changes" in order to carry on the principle of "patriots govern the city, secessionists and rioters expelled from the election." The reforms are expected to include a number of different aspects including the qualification of the candidates running for election, qualification of voters, election procedures, balloting activities, election funding and other requirements. 

"A key focus would be the qualification of candidates. As the electoral officer is only a middle-level officer in the civil service structure, who can't conduct a full-scale political scrutiny over the candidates in order to bar those who are against China and stir up trouble, so it's necessary for the government to set up a mechanism or an department to do so," Lau was quoted as saying in the report on the website of Ta Kung Pao recently. 

Lau also suggested that the department could be led by high-level government officials, including the office for safeguarding national security of the central government in Hong Kong by following detailed principles and procedures in conducting political scrutiny of candidates. 

Fixing the loopholes in the electoral system of Hong Kong should make sure that those who are elected as district councilors or LegCo lawmakers genuinely support the Basic Law, pledge loyalty to China and the country's HKSAR, according to observers.