Activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung has accused an electoral official of fabricating allegations against him that could be labelled offences under the sweeping national security law, warning that dissidents face not only disqualification from the Legislative Council elections but possible arrest.
Wong held a press conference a day after he, alongside 11 other opposition election hopefuls, including incumbent lawmakers, were barred from running in the next polls.
The returning officers’ decision came two days after Hong Kong police’s national security department arrested four student members of a pro-independence group, including former Studentlocalism leader Tony Chung Hon-lam for allegedly inciting secession.
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They were released on bail on Friday afternoon and barred from leaving the city for six months.
Returning officer Alice Choi’s ruling on Wong cited previous statements issued by the party he founded, the now-defunct Demosisto, and previous remarks the activist himself had made.
Choi maintained that Wong, who was barred from running in last November’s district council polls, planned to continue to solicit interference by foreign governments in the city’s affairs, and pursue the objective of “democratic self-determination”, which she characterised as Demosisto’s “cardinal objective”.
But on Friday, Wong said the returning officer had not only deprived him of his right to political participation.
“This 18-page decision contains a lot of fabricated allegations that could be considered offences under the national security law,” Wong said, referring to the law imposed by Beijing that targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
In explaining her decision, Choi noted that in a Facebook post dated July 10, Wong wrote he wished to “continue to contribute to the international front”, and used the phrase “let the world see Hong Kong and stand with Hongkongers”.
Choi said that showed Wong’s intention to “continue to solicit interference by foreign governments”, even after the national security law took effect on June 30.
But Wong dismissed that as “fake news”. He said the post in question was only commenting on two international news reports: Australia’s suspension of its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, and reports as to whether Netflix would remove a documentary about Wong because of the national security law.
If the slanderous operation of the government is tolerated and not refuted, I believe I will be given no chance of defence when I’m arrested
Political activist Joshua Wong
In her ruling, Choi also argued that Wong’s mentioning of an “international front” and use of the phrase “let the world see Hong Kong and walk with Hongkongers” had to be taken in context with his earlier posts and articles, dating back to March and even a speech made in Washington last September.
The July 10 post was therefore an “objective manifestation” of [Wong’s] present intention to continue to engage in such course of conduct”, she said.
Wong strongly refuted that argument.
“If the slanderous operation of the government is tolerated and not refuted, I believe I will be given no chance of defence when I’m arrested,” he said.
Responding to the government’s expected announcement that it will postpone the elections citing health concerns surrounding Covid-19, Wong insisted that the actual rationale was Beijing’s fear of losing control of Legco.
“Beijing could disqualify us, arrest us and throw us into jail, they could even call off the elections and create a puppet parliament elsewhere,” Wong said.
“However, none of these can overturn the strong mandate of 610,000 Hongkongers who cast their ballots in the city’s first-ever primaries.”
The unofficial primary elections held on July 11 and 12 were aimed at allowing voters to winnow down the list of candidates that would represent the opposition camp in the September polls.
Meanwhile, an online commentary published on Friday by People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, said that Wong, Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok and their 10 allies disqualified from the elections on Thursday had only themselves to blame.
“Their path to execute their plot of ‘mutual destruction’ has been blocked … How can Hong Kong’s legislature allow these people, who conspire to destroy ‘one country, two systems’ and the city’s prosperity and stability, to become candidates?” it read.
“For candidates, it is a basic political requirement to wholeheartedly uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong special administrative region.”
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More from South China Morning Post:
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- Hong Kong elections: what does it mean to be disqualified, who decides, and how have hopefuls been barred in the past?
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