Former Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai talks to China Daily during an interview in Hong Kong on July 27, 2017. (Photo: China Daily/Parker Zheng)
HONG KONG - Former Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has urged the Hong Kong government to seriously consider delaying the upcoming general election scheduled for Sept 6 amid the serious coronavirus pandemic, which has seen another sharp uptick in cases in recent days.
"This is not a suitable time for the Legislative Council election. For the election candidates, they need to campaign in the streets and reach out to the voters, but that will result in a lot of people getting together and will pose a very huge health risk. The government needs to consider and sort out a legal basis to postpone the election," she said, echoing previous comments by several pro-establishment figures.
The government may seek recourse from the Legislative Council Ordinance or the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to delay the election for 14 days, said Fan, who headed the council from 1997 to 2008. Fan also suggested the government look into the possibility of setting up a provisional legislature to avoid a leadership vacuum, as advised by many in the city, and produce a contingency plan if the election were to be delayed even longer.
Fan said that in the 2019 District Council election, many elderly people waited a long time to vote, and got bored or tired and left without voting, while some people were suspected of lining up again and again with the intention of delaying the process. She criticized the Electoral Affairs Commission for being unwilling to set up a separate line for the elderly. "If the election is deferred, there is time to improve these defects," she said.
Fan is aware that the opposition camp hopes to get over half of the LegCo seats to dominate the legislature and hold the government at ransom by threatening to veto all government bills and the budget. She worries that if that were to happen, society would grind to a halt as civil servants would not get paid, while public services, such as education, healthcare, elderly services and welfare, would be stopped.
"Hong Kong citizens should know the plot of the opposition camp and should not vote for them," she said.
On the disqualification of election candidates, she said pro-"independence" activists can hardly convince the returning officers, who oversee the election, that the activists truly uphold the Basic Law and are loyal to the Hong Kong SAR, particularly because they have posted many separatism comments on social media linking them to calls for "independence".
"The chance of disqualification of the separatists is quite high," she said.
However, Fan believes the opposition will have standby candidates ready. If massive disqualifications were to happen, she is afraid that that would anger the radicals and even the so-called "light-yellow people" — those who slightly inclined to vote for the opposition — to vote for the Plan B candidates to avenge on the government.
She also said that as pointed out by a court judgment, the returning officers should give a chance for candidates to explain their comments before being disqualified, because otherwise, that might open the door for a for judicial review.