- Carrie Lam used an almost 100-year-old, rarely used emergency law from the British colonial era.
- The opposition accused Lam of having sought an excuse for the postponement and having found it through the coronavirus pandemic.
- Joshua Wong and eleven of his fellow pro-democracy activists had been banned from running for the postponed parliamentary election.
In a rather controversial move, the Hong Kong government today postponed the forthcoming parliamentary election that had initially been scheduled for September. The government of the Special Administrative Region cited the Coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind the postponement.
In coming up with the postponement of the elections, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, used an almost 100-year-old, rarely used emergency law from the British colonial era. Lam justified the move with the recent increase in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong more so since the beginning of this month.
However, the opposition says that the postponement has to do with some ulterior motives.
Opposition Against the Move
The Hong Kong opposition, on its part, has accused the Carrie Lam-led administration, which is loyal to Beijing, of having sought an excuse for the postponement and having found it through the coronavirus pandemic.
The democracy activists had hoped to benefit from the current mood in Hong Kong, and to win a majority in parliament for the first time. They had already announced that they would take a stand against a postponement of the regional election.
The internationally-known Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong had announced the continuation of the democracy movement, even under the massively difficult conditions of the new Chinese “security law.” The 23-year-old told a press conference that their struggle would continue.
He expressed hope that the world would stand by the side of the pro-democracy activists in the tough struggle. “Our resistance will continue on and we hope the world can stand with us in the upcoming uphill battle,” Wong told news reporters.
Twelve Activists Barred from Running
Wong and eleven of his fellow pro-democracy activists had been banned from running for the postponed parliamentary election. Beijing praised the move by the Hong Kong electoral administration, and described the excluded candidates as “unscrupulous criminals.”
Tough Security Law
The pro-democracy movement has lately come under massive pressure under the so-called “security law,” which came in to force four weeks ago. The tough laws were enacted by the Chinese leadership in reaction to the months-long and sometimes violent mass protests of the movement.
According to the law, activities that the authorities regard as subversion, secession, terrorism, or a conspiracy with foreign forces can result in their life imprisonment. The “security law” represents the most severe encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy since the handover from Britain in 1997.
The former British Crown Colony had been granted special rights for 50 years when it was handed over to China, including freedom of expression and assembly. Many western states, as well as pro-democracy and human rights organizations, have sharply criticized the law and accused China of undermining civil rights in the SAR.
However, China has remained firm in its decision, insisting that the law would ensure peace and harmony, and prevail in the SAR, and that only criminals would be targeted by the law.