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Hong Kong localist lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai unseated as Legislative Council member

Hong Kong localist lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai was unseated as a Legislative Council member on Thursday with immediate effect, the city’s No 2 official said.

Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu made the announcement as chairman of the seven-member Candidate Eligibility Review Committee, which examines candidacies for membership of the Election Committee.

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“The Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will not allow anyone to pretend to bear allegiance to the city and enter the system,” he said.

Cheng, as a lawmaker, would have joined the Election Committee as an ex officio member. But Lee said that after the vetting body sought advice from the national security committee, which is chaired by city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, it was decided Cheng would not be able to uphold the Basic Law or bear allegiance to the city.

According to a resolution adopted by the country’s top legislative body last November, lawmakers immediately lose their seats if deemed by authorities to be unable to bear allegiance to the special administrative region.

Lee said Cheng was given the opportunity to give an explanation, before the vetting group sought advice from the national security committee.

In 2017, Cheng was convicted of turning miniature Chinese and Hong Kong flags upside down during a debate in Legco the previous year and fined HK$5,000 (US$645).

The expanded Election Committee will hold polls for 1,500 seats on September 19. About 1,000 slots will be elected, more than 300 are ex officio, while 156 positions will be nominated by designated bodies such as religious and professional groups.

Authorities received 1,056 nominations over the past two weeks, including 1,016 from hopefuls competing for the elected seats, and 40 lists of names for the 156 designated slots.

There are 40 subsectors representing different professions and trades, each with a varying number of seats on the committee. A poll for a subsector will only be held on September 19 if the number of candidates – who have to pass the newly introduced vetting process – exceeds the number of members to be elected.

The one-week nomination period closed on August 12. More than 1,100 seats will be filled by unchallenged candidates, while there will only be competition for seats in 13 of the 40 subsectors – amounting to 371 positions.

Among the subsectors are: education; legal; medical and health services; technology and innovation; architectural, surveying, planning and landscape; Chinese medicine; commercial (third); financial services; insurance; social welfare; and labour.

Following Beijing’s changes, the committee is tasked with not just picking the city’s leader next March, but also nominating lawmakers, and fielding its own representatives to the legislature in December.

The vetting committee’s members are Lee, the secretaries for constitutional affairs, home affairs and security, former justice minister Elsie Leung Oi-sie, former Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and former Chinese University president Lawrence Lau Juen-yee.

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