Carrie Lam defends decision to postpone Legco election

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision was based on the objective development of the epidemic.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision was based on the objective development of the epidemic.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defended her decision to postpone the city's Legislative Council (Legco) election due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, stressing that voters will not be deprived of their rights.

She said yesterday that the decision was based on the objective development of the epidemic, without political considerations.

The government must also consider the rights of voters stranded overseas, she added in an interview with broadcaster TVB.

"We estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of people stranded in the mainland or overseas," she said.

"If we... continue the election under the severe epidemic, and people are worried about the risk of infection, more than seven million people in Hong Kong may be harmed."

The election was slated for Sept 6, but has been postponed by a whole year to Sept 5, 2021.

Mrs Lam, whose public support levels are at an all-time low, pointed out that Hong Kong has no overseas voting or electronic voting arrangements.

"If we hope to better deal with future unexpected events that make it impossible to carry out the usual election process, we should seriously consider, for example, in the case of Singapore, overseas voting," she said.

Mrs Lam also expressed hope that the infighting in the Legco would end in the coming year so that work would continue as per normal during the "vacuum period" or the duration that the current government term is extended by.

"Some legislators have adopted a resistance strategy. For example, it was recently pointed out that if the opposition seizes more than half of the Legco, no policy will be passed - an indiscriminate move to block everything. This position of complete resistance is disadvantageous to the public."

Asked if she was worried about being sanctioned by Western countries, Mrs Lam said these countries have used the postponing of the election as a pretext to attack Hong Kong, but her administration has a response plan.

CONSIDER OVERSEAS VOTING

If we hope to better deal with future unexpected events that make it impossible to carry out the usual election process, we should seriously consider, for example, in the case of Singapore, overseas voting.

HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE CARRIE LAM, pointing out that the city has no overseas voting or electronic voting arrangements.

The controversial move throws up questions of legitimacy.

Veteran political watcher, Associate Professor Sing Ming, told The Sunday Times: "If there's no legislature at all and the government would legislate, that would become even more absurd because that violates the Basic Law... The procedural legitimacy of any provisional legislature will be undermined."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2020, with the headline 'Lam defends decision to postpone Legco election'. Print Edition | Subscribe