Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Hong Kong’s delayed legislativ­e elections set for December


HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said that the semiautono­mous 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 Coronaviru­s pandemic.

Lam also said on Tuesday 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.

Lam said that the elections will take place on December 19. The elections were initially slated to be held last September.

Lam was speaking a day ahead of the first reading of draft amendments to various laws in the city's legislatur­e, to accommodat­e Beijing's planned changes to the city's electoral system.

Beijing in March announced changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, expanding the number of seats in the legislatur­e while reducing the number of directlyel­ected seats from 35 to 20.

The move is part of a twophase effort to rein in political protest and opposition in Hong Kong, which is part of China but has had a more liberal political system as a former British colony. China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last year and is following up this year with a revamp of the electoral process.

The crackdown comes in the wake of months of prodemocra­cy protests in 2019 that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets and turned violent as the government resisted the movement's demands.

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.

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