Nearly 600,000 Vote in H Kong Primaries07/12 10:52
HONG KONG (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents turned up
over the weekend to vote in an unofficial primary election held by the city's
pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming
The primaries were held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national
security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping
away at the "one country, two systems" framework under which Britain handed
Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year's
massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to vote
despite a warning last week by Hong Kong's constitutional affairs minister,
Eric Tsang, that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security
law because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local
Organizers dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the
government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The new law prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or
terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the
law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and
order internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be
in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research
Institute, a co-organizer of the primaries. The computer system was suspected
of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an
investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is
attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best
candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to
win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the
To hold the primaries, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd
funding. They pledged to veto the government's budget if they clinch a majority
in the legislature. Under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, known as the Basic
Law, the city's leader must resign if an important bill such as the budget is
Organizers said Sunday that nearly 600,000 people voted at polling booths
set up across the city, exceeding organizers' estimates of a turnout of 170,000.
"Despite the threat of the national security law, there are still nearly
600,000 people coming out to vote, " said Au Nok-hin, one of the organizers of
the primaries. "We can see Hong Kongers are really brave."