Beijing, Oct 6 (EFE).- Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Wednesday that the city’s next elections will be “free and fair” under the controversial electoral reform Beijing passed in March, which according to pro-democratic sectors seeks to prevent the opposition from gaining power.
The elections to the Legislative Council of the financial center are scheduled for Dec. 19, while those for the head of the executive are set for Mar. 27.
“Hong Kong will hold its next two elections openly and fairly according to amendments to the electoral law,” Lam said in a lengthy speech before the Legislative Council, during which she said the city has returned to “normality” due to the National Security Law Beijing imposed last year.
In her speech, Lam announced the semi-autonomous city “will strengthen education” so Hong Kongers “are aware” and “adhere” to the law, which carries penalties of up to life imprisonment for cases of “secession, subversion against power (commonly used against dissidents and communist regime critics), terrorist activities and collusion with foreign forces.”
Lam also announced plans for Hong Kong officials to “consolidate the idea of ??the nation and the importance of safeguarding national security” by sending them to mainland China to participate in seminars on these issues.
According to the Hong Kong chief executive, the protests that hit the city during 2019 represented “actions by anti-Chinese forces,” “destabilizing,” which “repeatedly threatened national security,” and needed ”Beijing’s response” in the form of the controversial law.
Several pro-democracy voices interpreted this law as another step in the reduction of freedoms and rights in Hong Kong after the anti-government protests that took to the streets of the former British colony in the second half of 2019.
Organizations linked to the pro-democratic camp have been forced to disappear, while several leading figures in the protest movement have ended up in prison or in exile.
The law that will govern the next elections assumes representatives elected by direct suffrage will fall from 35 to 20. Parliament members appointed by the Electoral Committee, similar to Beijing, will increase to 40 and those appointed to 30 as representatives of various business and professional sectors.
Parliament will have 90 seats for the current 70, and Beijing will require the approval of another commission, which will have the power of veto, to guarantee the loyalty of the deputies and suffocate “de facto” the opposition, according to the pro-democratic camp.
According to the Sino-British Declaration of 1984, Beijing assumed to maintain the rights and freedoms in the territory for at least 50 years since China was given back administrative control of the city in 1997. EFE