Hindustan Times (Jammu)
Focus on Beijing’s influence as HK hosts polls in Dec
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the Chinese territory’s legislative elections will take place in December, more than a year after they were postponed by authorities citing public health risks from the pandemic.
Lam also said that laws will be amended so that inciting voters not to vote or to cast blank or invalid votes will be made illegal, although voters themselves are free to boycott voting or cast votes as they wish.
“When a person willfully obstructs or prevents any person from voting at an election, we will consider it corrupt conduct,” said Lam. She said that the elections will take place on December 19. They were initially slated to be held last September.
Beijing in March announced changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, expanding the number of seats in the legislature while reducing the number of directly-elected seats from 35 to 20. The move is part of a twophase effort to rein in political protest and opposition in Hong Kong. China imposed a security law on Hong Kong last year and is following up this year with a revamp of the electoral process.
In the current 70-member legislature, voters elect half the members and the other half are chosen by constituencies representing various professions and interest groups. Many of the constituencies lean pro-Beijing, ensuring that wing a majority in the legislature.
The new body will have 20 elected members, 30 chosen by the constituencies and 40 by an Election Committee which also chooses the city’s leader. The committee, which will be expanded from 1,200 to 1,500 members, is dominated by supporters of the government in Beijing. Elections for the election committee, which will choose the city’s leader and 40 lawmakers, will be held on September 19. Elections for the chief executive will take place on March 27, 2022, Lam said Tuesday.