HKSAR postpones Chief Executive Election to May, prepares for mass nucleic tests
Published: Feb 18, 2022 06:42 PM
Carrie Lam.Photo: CFP

Carrie Lam.Photo: CFP

By citing the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Executive Council agreed to postpone the Chief Executive Election, which was originally scheduled for March 27, to May 8 as the Chinese city fights the COVID-19 outbreak, Carrie Lam, chief executive of the HKSAR government, announced on Friday. 

Lam told a press briefing on Friday afternoon that it will probably take three months to curb the epidemic, and the city has been preparing for full-scale nucleic acid testing. The nomination period for the election will also be postponed, to start on April 3 until April 16. 

The decision is in line with the instruction of the central government, as containing the epidemic is now the top priority for Hong Kong, according to the chief executive. It is also in line with the current situation in Hong Kong and the public interest, she said, noting that it was not the first time that the HKSAR authority, citing emergency ordinance, postponed elections, as the 7th Legislative Council Election was postponed in July 2020 until September 2021 due to the epidemic. 

Amid the current resurgence of COVID-19, Hong Kong reported 3,629 new confirmed cases on Friday and about 7,600 initially diagnosed positive cases, raising the number of reported cases on the day to over 11,000, according to local media reports. As of Thursday, the city had reported 37,071 positive cases since the original outbreak, and with the newly reported cases on Friday, there are nearly 50,000 infections, which is close to the total of the outbreak in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei, which was the first Chinese city hit by COVID-19.

All government departments have been functioning in fighting the epidemic, and if we hold the election now, it will bring risks to public health, Lam said, noting that with social distancing restrictions, candidates can't take part in normal election campaigns such as seeking the nomination and support, or communicate with the public about political programs, which would affect the fairness of the election. 

The decision is also legitimate, as under the emergency and the situation endangering public security, the Court of Final Appeal can judge on the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to postpone the election, which has full legal basis. 

"It's within the expectation as we have no other way," Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Friday. However, Lau believes that with the strong support of the central government, the epidemic can be put under control in about a month, and a new chief executive can be sworn in before July 1.