The Hong Kong government is considering postponing legislative elections amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, media reports say, prompting criticism from pro-democracy candidates hoping to triumph in the September vote.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council was expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss postponing the September 6 legislative elections, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported, citing people it didn’t identify.
The government could declare an election delay in early August, according to the HKET and two separate reports by the Hong Kong Economic Journal and news organisation HK01, which cited sources. A government announcement was meant to come after the nomination period ends on Friday, but the timing was now uncertain after the information leaked to news outlets on Tuesday, the reports said.
“The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau and the Registration and Electoral Office are preparing for the election and shall closely keep in touch with the Food and Health Bureau and the Centre for Health Protection to
monitor the development of
the epidemic and formulate various plans,” a government spokesperson told Bloomberg News.
The election would be Hong Kong’s first since China’s imposition of sweeping national
security legislation, a move that raised the pro-democracy camp’s concerns it would be used to disqualify its candidates from September’s vote. The opposition has hoped to ride the momentum of its landslide victory in last November’s District Council elections to a majority in the legislature.
“Increasingly it’s looking challenging to hold the election,” Bernard Chan, the convener of the Executive Council and a top Lam adviser, said in an interview.
“It’s not like September is going to be any better. I just can’t imagine things will be better and not worse than now, so we have to prepare for the worst.”