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World Hong Kong announces more electoral system changes favouring pro-Beijing camp

14:56  13 april  2021
14:56  13 april  2021 Source:   reuters.com

China is 'trampling on Hong Kong's democracy'

  China is 'trampling on Hong Kong's democracy' With Beijing's influence now paramount, many in Hong Kong are torn between defiance and resignation.Recent changes ensure that only "patriots" loyal to the mainland can end up in positions of power. To those hoping Hong Kong might move towards greater democracy, it feels like the final blow.

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced amendments to voting laws on Tuesday that critics say favour pro-Beijing candidates by redrawing constituency boundaries, creating more electoral districts, and criminalising calls for voters to leave ballots blank.

Carrie Lam standing in front of a laptop: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends her quarterly © Reuters/TYRONE SIU Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends her quarterly "Question and Answer Session" at the Legislative Council, in Hong Kong

Having become Hong Kong's least popular chief executive in the near quarter century since the handover from British colonial rule, it remains unclear whether Lam will seek re-election. She faced the largest and most violent anti-government protests in 2019 after proposing a bill to allow extraditions to mainland China.

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A general view of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s quarterly © Reuters/TYRONE SIU A general view of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s quarterly "Question and Answer Session" at the Legislative Council, in Hong Kong

Lam announced the poll date for the electoral committee to select the chief executive and 40 of the 90 seats in the city's mini-parliament, the Legislative Council, known as LegCo, is set for Sept. 19.

LegCo elections are set for Dec. 19, while the chief executive elections are set for March 27, 2022.

The proposals will be discussed on Wednesday in the LegCo, though there is no opposition left in the council after mass resignations last year in protest against the disqualification of some pro-democracy legislators.

The amendments, detailed over 600 pages across eight ordinances, are meant to facilitate and complement Beijing's move last month to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system by significantly curbing democratic representation in its institutions to ensure that only "patriots" can rule.

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai among three pleading guilty to illegal assembly

  Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai among three pleading guilty to illegal assembly Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai among three pleading guilty to illegal assemblyThe plea of guilty to joining the citywide unlawful protest on Aug. 31 that year comes a week after Lai and six more activists were found guilty in a separate court case over unauthorised assembly.

"We all want the election to be very fair so any manipulation to jeopardize or sabotage the election should not be permitted," Lam told a news conference.

The changes announced by China in March reduce the number of directly elected representatives and increase the number of Beijing-approved officials in an expanded legislature. A powerful new vetting committee will monitor candidates for public office and work with new national security authorities in Hong Kong to ensure they are loyal to Beijing.

But China's parliament left some of the smaller details, such as the poll dates or the drawing of new constituencies, to be legislated by Hong Kong authorities.

On Tuesday, Lam said the government will increase the number of electoral districts from which vetted candidates can be elected to 10, with two winners from each region. Previously, 35 seats were split between five electoral districts.

The redrawing of constituencies could result in stronger showings for pro-Beijing candidates in rural regions bordering mainland China and the east of the Hong Kong island, where they usually fare better, analysts say.

"Manipulating" the election by advocating for blank or invalid protest votes or obstructing other people from voting will also constitute a crime, according to amendments to the elections ordinance.

Critics fear voters would feel robbed of a genuine choice if candidates are vetted for their loyalty to Beijing, while most opposition figures are either in jail or in exile.

(Reporting by Jessie Pang; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Hong Kong: 14 months in prison for Jimmy Lai, the PRO-DEMOCRACY PRESS TIP .
© Provided by the point L e Magnat Hong Kong of the Jimmy LAI will have to purge 14 months in prison in total after being Condemned Friday for its role in the organization in 2019 of two major demonstrations for democracy. Mr. Lai was part of nine convicted opposition figures guilty of organizing and participating on August 18, 2019 at one of the main protests that year. Four other activists have screwed from 8 to 18 months in prison and four have been imposed on the prison with reprieve.

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