Hong Kong: Polling stations opened on Sunday in Hong Kong where people are voting in the patriots’-only Legislative Council election, the first one since the imposition of sweeping national security law and a shake-up of the city’s electoral system.
More than 10,000 police officers were deployed across the city to ensure order at the polls. The new system puts in place under the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong.” Under this system, all the candidates must be approved by a national security vetting committee.
The social democratic party in Hong Kong staged a small protest on Sunday morning, where Chief Executive Carrie Lam cast her vote at a polling station nearby, Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.
The slogans during the demonstrations included, “I want universal suffrage” and “the more we are silenced, the more we must raise our voice.”
“We are protesting against [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam for destroying our electoral system using under the guise of improving the election, but in reality, completely depriving the voting rights of Hong Kong people,” said Chan Po-ying, chairperson of the League of Social Democrats (LSD).
Earlier this year, the Chinese parliament passed the reform plan for the Hong Kong electoral system, which changed the procedures for electing the head of the city administration and forming the legislative body.
The changes prompted criticism from the international community which said that the bill undermines Hong Kong’s independence. Refuting all accusations, China has repeatedly stated that matters relating to Hong Kong are an internal affair and has warned against external pressure.
Applications from over 150 candidates have been approved by a special committee. The council has been expanded from 70 to 90 seats, with 20 representatives getting elected by direct vote and another 30 being elected by business groupings.
The remaining 40 seats will be taken up by members of the Election Committee.
The Sunday election, which was originally set to take place on September 6, 2020, but was postponed because of the pandemic, is being held in accordance with the “patriots run Hong Kong” principle.
There are about 4.47 million registered voters who are eligible to vote in the Hong Kong election. Under the city’s law, incitement to boycott or intentional casting of invalid votes is considered a crime and could lead to up to three years in jail.
The city new legislative council will begin its work on January 1, 2022.