The District Council elections will be held next month. Except for the South Horizons West constituency which is still surrounded by some uncertainty, the list of candidates in every district has been confirmed. The upcoming District Council elections will be held amid the anti-amendment storm, and the atmosphere for elections is abnormal. With a cloud of political violence hanging overhead, it is inevitable that campaigning activities will be affected. Still, the government should try to make sure that the elections will be held smoothly as scheduled. For an election to be fair and just, the first thing to do is to ensure "freedom from fear", i.e. that candidates will not refrain from canvassing for votes because of the threat of violence and voters will not be afraid of casting their votes. To Hong Kong, the upcoming District Council elections will be an important test. We hope that all sides of society will pay regard to the city's interests as a whole and let the elections be held in circumstances free of fear and violence.
There will be intense competition in the upcoming District Council elections. The authorities have received over one thousand nominations, and the number of people who have expressed the intention to stand for election is the highest on record. Not a single constituency has seen the return of a candidate uncontested, something that has never happened before since the handover. There has been concern over whether some candidates will be disqualified from the elections. Some are worried that a wave of disqualifications will add fuel to the flames and further the social turmoil. However, so far only the candidacy of Joshua Wong, secretary-general of Demosistō, has not been confirmed. All the other candidates who have been questioned by a returning officer have had their candidacy confirmed.
Joshua Wong intends to stand for election in the South Horizons West constituency. The returning officer for the Southern District responsible for the matter has taken sick leave abruptly, and another returning officer has to sit in for her. This has led to quite a lot of discussion. Every move made by the returning officers handling the upcoming District Council elections has been under the spotlight. It is undeniable that they are facing pressure from all sides. However, outsiders know little concerning the situation of the returning officer of the Southern District. At this stage, all kinds of theories are merely political speculation and exaggeration, which might not be fair to those involved.
The anti-amendment storm has gone on for more than four months. The social atmosphere is tense. Undeniably, it is difficult for the upcoming District Council elections to take place in such extraordinary circumstances. The briefing session for candidates hosted by the Electoral Affairs Committee last night ran for around half an hour before it was cancelled amid the clamour caused by protests by people off the stage. The fact that a briefing session that could not be more ordinary could not take place smoothly makes people inevitably concerned about what will happen when candidates canvass for votes in different districts later. But it has to be said that an election is more capable of reflecting the preference of the public than any kind of opinion poll. The upcoming District Council elections will be the best opportunity for the silent majority to speak out and express their views on the government and the current political situation. The government, protesters, pan-democrats and pro-establishment politicians should all ensure that the elections will be held in a way that is fair and just.
We hope that all sides will cooperate with each other in a sincere manner to ensure that next month's District Council elections will be free of fear and violence and allow voters to use their sacred votes to make themselves heard loud and clear. It is hoped that the authorities' contingency plan for the District Council elections will be a backup arrangement that remains unused.