Hong Kong Postpones Legislative Council Election Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

Journal Title: The Current Digest of the Chinese Press

Issue Edition: Vol. 9, No. 31

Author: Xinhua News Agency


Hong Kong Postpones Legislative Council Election Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

Xinhua News Agency, July 31, 2020. Complete text:

Hong Kong – Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam on Friday [July 31] announced the postponement of the 2020 Legislative Council (LegCo) General Election of the HKSAR due to the current COVID-19 outbreak. The election for the seventh-term LegCo members of the HKSAR, originally scheduled for Sept. 6, 2020, will be postponed for one year, Lam said at a press conference.
   
Describing the postponement of the LegCo election as a “hard choice,” the chief executive stressed that it was a decision necessary for curbing the COVID-19 outbreak, protecting public security and health, and ensuring the openness and fairness of the election. Hong Kong has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 outbreak since early July. A total of 1,852 additional COVID-19 cases were reported between July 8 and July 30, up 140% from the total number of cases recorded over the previous six months, she said.
   
Hong Kong is facing the most severe epidemic situation since January 2020, with a growing risk of a major outbreak, Lam noted. Under the current circumstances, if the LegCo election were held as scheduled, its openness and fairness could hardly be ensured, and the safety of voters, candidates and staff at polling stations and counting stations would be endangered, she added.
   
In a letter to the chief executive on July 28, the chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission detailed the public health risks of holding the election as scheduled, pointing out that 3 million voters casting their ballots at polling stations across Hong Kong on the same day would create an “exponentially larger infection risk.”
   
Lam said the postponement of elections has become a common practice around the world amid the pandemic. By mid-July, 62 countries and eight territories had postponed elections, according to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Lam noted, adding that Britain has postponed polls of the local and mayoral elections in England for a year to May 2021 due to the pandemic outbreak.
   
The chief executive had earlier submitted a report on postponing the 2020 LegCo election to the Central People’s Government. The Central People’s Government has replied that it supports the HKSAR Chief Executive in Council in making the decision to postpone the seventh-term LegCo election of the HKSAR for a year in accordance with the law in the interests of the public and based on the actual situation in Hong Kong.