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就朱凱廸在 2019 年鄉郊代表選舉中被剝奪資格之聲明

2018/12/7 — 13:23

法政匯思製圖(背景圖片:朝雲 攝)

法政匯思製圖(背景圖片:朝雲 攝)

The Progressive Lawyers Group's Statement on the Disqualification of Chu Hoi Dick in the 2019 Rural Ordinary Election (Scroll for English)

1. 法政匯思就 2019 年鄉郊代表選舉中,選舉主任裁定朱凱廸的候選人提名無效之決定(「該決定」)感到震怒。該決定侵犯了朱凱廸及選民的權利,亦沒有任何法律基礎。實際上,此舉形同政治審查。

2. 朱凱廸獲提名為現有鄉村元崗新村(八鄉)居民代表的候選人。儘管朱凱廸就選舉主任的提問的回應中,闡明他並不支持香港獨立,選舉主任仍然裁定朱凱廸沒有所需的意圖,以擁護基本法及效忠香港特別行政區(「特區」)。因此,選舉主任按《鄉郊代表選舉條例》(第 576 章)(「該選舉條例」)第 24 條決定朱凱廸提名無效。特區政府繼而公開回應,明確指出政府認同及支持該決定(「該回應」)。

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3. 自 2016 年起,先後有 9 名獲提名候選人在立法會選舉中被取消參選資格,包括 2018 年 1 月的周庭女士和同年 10 月的劉小麗女士。法政匯思已於早前聲明中批評上述取消參選資格的決定。遺憾地,我們的批評仍適用於是次事件,包括:
a. 該決定侵犯香港永久居民基本的選舉權和參選權;
b. 該決定侵犯香港永久居民基本的言論自由;及
c. 限制以上基本權利的措施必須按照狹義解釋及只能依法施行。

4. 再者,選舉主任有否權力調查朱凱廸是否「具真心及真誠擁護《基本法》及效忠特區的意圖」仍值得商榷。字面上,該選舉條例第 24 條只要求獲提名候選人程序上簽署一份擁護《基本法》及保證效忠特區的聲明。

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5. 雖然法庭在陳浩天 訴 羅應祺及其他人 [2018] 2 HKLRD 7 一案中,的確就《立法會條例》(第 542 章)第 40(1)(b)(i) 條(「該條文」)訂下對立法會獲提名候選人的具體要求,但這些要求不能就此套用到鄉郊代表選舉。陳浩天一案的判決是根據該條文獨有的立法歷史及《基本法》第 104 條指明適用於立法會成員,而非鄉郊代表。

6. 再者,由於有關立法會選舉的選舉呈請及上訴程序尚在進行,故有關的法律仍有改變的可能。值得一提,是次個案正好說明適時處理相關的選舉呈請及上訴的重要性。

7. 另外,即使選舉主任認為他有權在「對客觀合理者而言具強而有力、清晰且令人信服的證據顯示,參選人明顯地不具(真心及真誠擁護《基本法》及效忠特區的)意圖的情況下」,取消獲提名候選人的參選資格,其結論與朱凱廸的情況並不相符。在該決定中,選舉主任只提出他對朱凱廸是否具所需的意圖存有「疑問」,或其答覆「可被理解」為「隱晦地」確定他支持獨立為其中一個選項。惟該決定的影響重大,此等解釋毫不充分。

8. 最後,鄉郊代表的職能具高地區性。與立法會議員不同,鄉郊代表並非「香港的高級官員」。 鄉郊代表的職能為代表該村的居民就該村的事務反映意見。 特區政府支持以某人的政治觀點為由而限制該人參選這類公職的立場實令人非常擔憂,因為此種限制標誌著香港人的思想和言論自由被進一步削弱。

9. 特區政府於該回應中支持該決定,並漠然地表示該決定「與部分社會人士指稱的政治審查、限制言論自由或剝奪參選權無關」,而沒有進一步解釋任何理據。法政匯思對特區政府的立場感到沮喪。特區政府有責任保障香港市民的基本權利,而理應不同意該決定。此外,由於選舉主任應該在政治上保持中立,他的決定應該得到獨立法律意見的支持。我們促請特區政府澄清是否有向選舉主任提供任何法律意見或建議,並對《基本法》所保障的基本權利賦予應有的尊重。

 

法政匯思
2018 年 12 月 6 日
(PDF: https://goo.gl/soEDLH)

1. The Progressive Lawyers Group ("PLG") is outraged by the Decision (the "Decision") made by a Returning Officer that Chu Hoi Dick Eddie ("Chu") is not validly nominated as a candidate in the 2019 Rural Ordinary Election. The Decision violates the rights of Chu and of voters, and lacks proper legal basis. In effect, it constitutes political censorship.

2. Chu was nominated as a candidate for Resident Representative for Existing Village Yuen Kong San Tsuen (Pat Heung). Despite Chu's responses to the relevant Returning Officer's questions stating that he did not support Hong Kong independence, the Returning Officer decided that Chu did not have the requisite intention to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("HKSAR"), and hence was not validly nominated under section 24 of the Rural Representative Election Ordinance (Cap. 576) ("RREO"). The HKSAR Government also issued a response specifying that it agrees to, and supports, the Decision (the "Response").

3. Since 2016, 9 nominees in Legislative Council elections have been disqualified from running, including Agnes Chow in January 2018, and Lau Siu Lai in October 2018. We are dismayed that our criticisms of those disqualifications as set out in our previous statements still apply to the present case, including that:- 
a. The Decision threatens Hong Kong permanent residents' fundamental rights to vote and to stand for election;
b. The Decision threatens Hong Kong permanent residents' fundamental right of free speech; and 
c. Restrictions on such fundamental rights must be interpreted narrowly and can only be made in accordance with law.

4. In addition, it is doubtful that the Returning Officer had the authority to investigate whether Chu had the "requisite intention to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR". On its face, section 24 of the RREO only imposes a procedural requirement on the nominee to sign a declaration to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR.

5. While it was held in Chan Ho Tin v Lo Ying Ki Alan & Ors [2018] 2 HKLRD 7 that section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) ("LCO") does impose a substantive requirement on a nominee for candidacy in the Legislative Council, that cannot simply be transposed here. The Chan Ho Tin case was based upon the specific legislative history of section 40(1) of the LCO and Article 104 of the Basic Law, which specifically apply to members of the Legislative Council but not to rural representatives.

6. In addition, the legal position in respect of Legislative Council elections may yet change since there are ongoing election petitions and related appeals on the issue at the moment. As a side note, the present situation aptly illustrates the importance of expediency in hearing and resolving election petitions and related appeals.

7. Furthermore, even upon the Returning Officer's own case that he is empowered to disqualify a nominee "in a plain case where there are cogent, clear and compelling materials which would demonstrate to an objectively reasonable person that the candidate plainly cannot have the intention [to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR]", Chu's situation does not warrant such conclusion. In the Decision, the Returning Officer could only argue at best that one may have "doubt" as to whether Chu had the requisite intent, or that his answers "can be understood" to "implicitly" confirm that he supports independence as an option. Such reasoning is plainly insufficient to support the Decision given its grave consequences.

8. Finally, the function of a rural representative is highly localised. Unlike a member of the Legislative Council, a rural representative is not a "high office holder of Hong Kong". A resident representative is to reflect views on the affairs of the village on behalf of residents of the village. The fact that the HKSAR Government would support a ban on a person from running for such a post for their political views is highly worrying, as it represents increasing violations of Hong Kong people's freedoms of conscience and expression.

9. In its Response, the HKSAR Government supported the Decision and blandly asserted 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" without any further explanation. We are dismayed with the HKSAR Government's position. As the HKSAR Government is obligated to protect the fundamental rights of Hong Kong residents, it should instead disagree with the Decision. Furthermore, as the Returning Officer ought to be politically neutral, his decisions ought to be supported by independent legal advice. We urge the HKSAR Government to clarify whether any legal opinion or advice was offered to the Returning Officer, and to give due respect to fundamental rights protected under the Basic Law.

 

Progressive Lawyers Group 
6th December 2018 
(PDF: https://goo.gl/soEDLH)

 

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