The sixth Legislative Council (LegCo) of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will continue performing duties after September 30, 2020, for no less than a year until the term of the seventh LegCo starts, according to a decision adopted at the 21st session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature.
Considering that Hong Kong is currently faced with a severe situation of the COVID-19 epidemic, the decision is reasonable and in line with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China as well as common international practice. It’s essential for guaranteeing Hong Kong’s early victory against the pandemic and efforts to achieve economic recovery and improve people’s livelihood.
Fairness and justice of an election cannot be ensured without a secure environment, and economic recovery and livelihood improvement won’t be achieved without early containment of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Hong Kong has been suffering from a third wave of COVID-19 infections since July, and is confronted with a rather grim and worrying epidemic situation.
Since the turbulence triggered by the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019 and the outbreak of the COVID-19 have grossly encumbered the social and economic development of Hong Kong, the latest COVID-19 resurgence would inevitably aggravate the situation and add to the burden on the HKSAR’s economy and people’s livelihood, pose direct threats to citizens’ health and safety, and cast a greater shadow on the region’s future development if Hong Kong fails to control the virus.
The decision to postpone the LegCo election and enable the sixth LegCo to continue performing its duties aims at stopping further spread of the pandemic caused by mass congregation as well as interregnum of legislature incurred due to the postponement.
The NPC Standing Committee’s decision is authoritative and necessary, and timely addresses the urgent problems faced by the HKSAR.
The decision is critical for the success of Hong Kong’s epidemic prevention and control efforts, which ensures that the legislative body of the HKSAR can perform its duties in accordance with the law, helps the HKSAR government exercise governance effectively and maintain normal functioning of society, guarantees the legitimate rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and safeguards the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
Postponing the LegCo election when the pandemic is wreaking havoc in the city is absolutely necessary for Hong Kong and conforms to the general consensus among the international community. Such decision is also in line with the prevailing international practices in many countries and regions in the present situation.
From February 21 to July 26, a total of 68 countries and regions had deferred elections due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to statistics from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), an intergovernmental organization.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the ruling party of Germany, announced in a statement in March that the scheduled April 25 conference for electing a new leader had been postponed “indefinitely” because of COVID-19.
The British government postponed the local and mayoral elections in England slated for May 7 for one year, as the government forecast that COVID-19 would be at its height in May.
The local government elections of Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) were postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which means the local government officials and councilors will be in office for an extra 12 months.
As it has been proven by practice, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on elections and the health and safety of people’s lives should never be underestimated or neglected. The threats posed by the pandemic must be tackled with powerful measures without delay.
The decision of the HKSAR Chief Executive to postpone the LegCo General Election after consultation with the Executive Council was completely out of the needs for science-based epidemic prevention and control. It also demonstrated the greatest concern for Hong Kong residents’ health and safety, as well as the sense of responsibility of the HKSAR government.
However, such a reasonable, justified, and legitimate decision which has won wide understanding and support from Hong Kong citizens has become a target of the slander and misrepresentation of the opposition camp, which has brazenly asserted that continuing with the election is more important than coping with the epidemic, in total disregard of the health and safety of the people in Hong Kong.
Certain Western forces have also seized the chance to collaborate with the opposition camp, trying to politicize the pandemic.
It seems that in the eyes of these Western politicians, it is legitimate for their countries to postpone elections for concerns over the pandemic, but the same scenario is unacceptable when it happens in Hong Kong.
The despicable double standards once again exposed the malicious intensions of the opposition camp and the Western forces behind it.
Sparing no effort to stigmatize the decision to postpone the LegCo election and provoke Hong Kong citizens’ dissatisfaction toward the Chinese mainland, these forces are just seeking control of Hong Kong by stirring up confrontation.
Such disgusting misdeeds of placing selfish political gains above the health and safety of Hong Kong citizens are not only widely denounced by people around the world, but doomed to failure. Those who plotted behind all the misconducts will only become notorious for what they have done.
At present, the Chinese mainland is making every effort to help Hong Kong fight the COVID-19 resurgence and protect its citizens. The health, safety, and well-being of the more than 7 million Hong Kong citizens concern all the Chinese people.
Hong Kong society should unite as one and combat the pandemic in a science-based and professional manner, so as to revitalize the city at an early date.
It’s believed that with the utmost solicitude of the central government, the great support of the Chinese mainland, and the strong leadership of the HKSAR government, Hong Kong is bound to effectively contain the resurgence and provide the most powerful guarantee for the health and safety of its citizens and the prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong society.