Bar concerned over Chow disqualification

Top News | Amy Nip & Phoenix Un Feb 15, 2018
The Hong Kong Bar Association has expressed concern about the disqualification of Agnes Chow Ting as she wasn't given an opportunity to explain herself.

The bar association said the latest judgment emphasized a person's right to be heard before their right is deprived.

On Tuesday, High Court judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung dismissed an election petition by Hong Kong National Party convener Andy Chan Ho-tin to overturn then-returning officer Alan Lo Ying-Yi's decision to bar him from entering the 2016 Legislative Council election. He ruled that returning officers have statutory powers to disqualify election applicants.

In a statement yesterday, the bar association said the judgment also affirmed the principle of natural justice, that a person is entitled to be heard before their right is adversely affected.

The association is concerned that Chow had no chance to be heard before the returning officer disqualified her from taking part in the Legislative Council by-election next month.

As for the court's decision that the returning officer has the power to confirm the validity of the nomination, the association said it is a substantive power.

What comes with the power is the duty to confirm the validity of the nomination by inquiring into a candidate's personal and political beliefs to satisfy them that the candidate will uphold the Basic Law.

"This regrettably is equivalent to the introduction of a political screening process for any prospective candidate, and there is no fair, open, certain and clear procedure to regulate this process," the association warned.

On a radio program yesterday, Andy Chan said that Au did not judge whether independence or self-determination advocacy complied with the Basic Law. Instead he gave the power of determination to returning officers.

He said had to file the election petition or else his disqualification would impact other late comers like independence advocates, localists and self-determination advocates like Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow. "Thus I didn't do the petition for myself," Chan said.

Speaking on the same program yesterday, Executive Councilor Ronny Tong Ka-wah said people believe that Chow would win an election petition as she was not given the chance to defend herself before being disqualified.

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January 2019