Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a high-profile Hong Kong activist from the political group Demosisto, has been disqualified from running in the District Council election in November over his political stance.
Wong went on social media on Tuesday morning and said Laura Aron, the returning officer, had ruled his nomination invalid.
Wong was the only candidate from more than 1,000 contesting the poll who has been banned from running in the election on November 24.
In a tweet, Wong said: “It proved how Beijing manipulates the election with political censorship and screening.” He said the ban was clearly “political-driven” and the “reason” was judging subjectively on his intention to uphold the Basic Law.
“Everyone would know that the true reason is my identity, Joshua Wong, is the crime in their mind,” he said.
“Beijing has deprived me of the right to institutional participation permanently, but no matter [if] they lock me up in prison, [or] censor me … from the ballot. My commitment for the democracy movement in Hong Kong will never be eroded by Beijing and President Xi,” Wong told media in the afternoon.
“I wish to emphasize that, since the former RO (returning officer) Mrs Dorothy Ma’s disappearance last week, it had become clear that Beijing exerted extremely strong pressure on HK gov’t officials who are responsible for deciding my candidacy,” Wong’s tweet showed.
Wong sought to run in the South Horizons West constituency in Southern District on Hong Kong Island. He submitted an application on October 4, but his nomination was neither confirmed nor denied, although he had been asked twice to explain his stance on independence for Hong Kong by Dorothy Ma, the original returning officer overseeing the area he wanted to contest.
Wong said he responded to Ma that he does want Hongkongers to have this right, but only after 2047, and under the constitutional framework of One Country, Two Systems. But Ma did not make her decision.
Last Friday, the government announced a sudden change of returning officer, saying Ma was on sick leave.
Yau Tsim Mong district officer Laura Aron took over Ma’s duties and sent Wong a letter again asking him to clarify his stance on self-determination.
Wong met with the media on Tuesday afternoon, said Aron had “distorted” and “misinterpreted” his answers to questions about his political views to justify his exclusion from the election, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Aron concluded that Wong was trying to “mislead” the public in stating that he and his group Demosisto no longer supported independence for Hong Kong as a possible option for the city, a document listing reasons for Wong’s disqualification showed.
The Hong Kong government issued a statement on Tuesday saying the authorities agreed and supported the decision made by the returning officer.
They stressed that “there is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections as alleged by some members of the community.”
The statement said “self-determination” or changing the SAR government system by supporting the independence of Hong Kong as an option for self-determination is inconsistent with the constitutional and legal status of the HKSAR as stipulated in the Basic Law, as well as the established basic policies of the PRC regarding Hong Kong.
Under the District Councils Ordinance, “a person is not validly nominated as a candidate for the DC election unless he or she, as part of the statutory nomination procedure, makes a declaration in the nomination form to the effect that he or she will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR,” it said.
As such, “if a person advocates or promotes self-determination or independence by any means, he or she cannot possibly uphold the Basic Law or fulfill his or her duties as a DC member,” the government said.
Several other pro-democracy candidates, including Lester Shum, a former student leader during the Umbrella Movement in 2014, and former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, were asked about their stance on Hong Kong independence and self-determination, but all were allowed to proceed.
Meanwhile, the High Court on Tuesday amended an interim injunction granted to protect police and their relatives’ personal data from being “doxxed,” or being made public, adding words that clarified the circumstances in which the order applies.
The order now prevents people from releasing personal data on police and their families if their actions are “intended or likely to intimidate, molest, harass, threaten, pester or interfere with” their victims. It also clarified the police’s family members defined as their “parents, children or siblings,” as well as their spouse.
The injunction followed after many police officers complained they were under “doxxing” attacks during the on-going protests in Hong Kong.
The original injunction, granted last Friday, caused concern from lawyers, academics and media groups, who complained that its broad wording and lack of definitions could lead to a range of problems, including preventing journalists from doing their work.
The general public also questioned the high level of protection the police enjoyed, which was not available to the general public. In fact, protesters, their supporters and some journalist’s personal data had been published online too.
A full hearing on the injunction is due to take place on November 8 and it will remain in place to them.
Meanwhile, local broadcaster Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB) on Monday also applied for an interim injunction, seeking to ban assaults on its employees and damage to property and equipment when its staff cover the protests.
TVB reporters and their news cars had been targeted over the past few months, as the protesters had accused their news reports of bias with a pro-government stance.