The Star Late Edition
China loyalty laws get the nod
HONG Kong’s opposition-devoid legislature approved new powers yesterday allowing the government to sack public office holders and bar election candidates from standing if they are deemed “disloyal” to local authorities or China.
The new laws are part of sweeping changes that Beijing has ordered for Hong Kong’s already limited electoral system.
The system will dramatically reduce the number of directly elected politicians and ensure only “staunch patriots” enter politics.
Along with a sweeping national security law, the political changes are part of a broad campaign to quash dissent after huge and often violent democracy protests rocked the finance hub in 2019.
Forty legislators approved the new law with just one dissenting vote in a chamber cleared of opposition members late last year ahead of the current political overhaul.
Under the new powers, all public office holders will be required to make a “pledge of loyalty” that they must adhere to throughout their term.
It includes principal government officials, cabinet members, legislators and judges as well as members of the legislature and over 470 district councillors – local neighbourhood officials who are the only people Hong Kongers can choose via universal suffrage.