Independent Electoral Observation Mission Findings on the 2019 District Council Election in Hong Kong. Carrie Lam is asked to establish an independent Electoral Commission – to replace the State run Authority, which is seen as “marking its own homework” – and to introduce the residential registration of voters to prevent personation and attempts at election rigging. Banning candidates or parties or limiting free speech emasculates democracy. “I would say directly to Carrie Lam, do not squander this opportunity. Don’t waste this chance … the window has been opened for you,” Interview with BBC World Service Radio.


https://lordalton.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/alton-hong-kong-world-update.mp3

The interview is towards the top of the episode.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172wy9xws45nkn

 

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“I would say directly to Carrie Lam, do not squander this opportunity. Don’t waste this chance … the window has been opened for you,” said British politician David Alton, one of the independent election monitors –https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/nov/26/hong-kong-chief-seeks-talks-after-elect/

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25 NOVEMBER 2019

Independent Electoral Observation Mission Presents Findings
on the 2019 District Council Election in Hong Kong

On 25 Nov 2019, members of the Independent Electoral Observation Mission (‘EOM’) have presented their findings (please see attached) on the 2019 District Council Elections at a Press Conference co-organized by “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” and “Hong Kong Story.”

David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) said that the election had generally been organised and fought fairly but that, for the future some irregularities needed to be tacked (see below).  He said that Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, needed to hear the clear message of the voters  who has “given a thumbs up to democracy and who want more democracy not less.” He said that “a window of opportunity has been opened. The Hong Kong authorities must respond and not squander the opportunity to end the political paralysis.” 

The EOM consisted of a team of leading politicians and experts, including Dr. Mantas Adomėnas (Lithuania), Mr Kenny Chiu (Canada), Mr Andrew Khoo (Malaysia), Professor Kenji Isezaki (Japan), and Ms. Vicki Dunne (Australia), and observers from other  countries including the US, UK, Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia.
The delegation announced that it found that the District Council Election was smooth-running, peaceful and orderly, notwithstanding the current socio-political climate. Members noted the unprecedented voting turnout, with about 2,940,000 votes cast and a 71.2% voting turnout rate, as a sign that the people of Hong Kong were active participants in democratic elections.
The delegation remarked that the disqualification of Joshua Wong was ungrounded and an act of political censorship and suppression. It noted that numerous candidates were assaulted during the campaigning period. During the observation, the delegates witnessed that uniformed police were present inside the polling stations, including those armed with pepper spray and guns. Members also noted inconsistencies in the handling of queues at different polling stations, and criticised the undesirable nature of the registration system for voters’ addresses, and instances of alleged bribery across the territory.

A member of the delegation said: “By participating in district-level election in such numbers, Hongkongers across the city have shown their insistence in finding a political solution to the current impasse.” The delegation also noted that in light of the ongoing political crisis, the turnout may reflect Hongkongers’ quest for democracy to elect their own representatives, be it the District, Legislative Council level or beyond.”

DSCF7617
One spokesperson from Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong., one of the co-organizers of the EOM, said: “The historic turnout and landslide victory of the District Council Elections remind us that democracy is crucial to enabling peaceful political change. But these election results should not blind us, nor the international community, to the fact that Hongkongers are paying an incredibly high price in their fight for political reform within the framework of meaningful autonomy. A truly sustainable solution to the future of Hong Kong must be built upon true democracy based on genuine universal suffrage.”
One spokesperson from Hong Kong Story said: “We have promised our fallen brothers and sisters to carry on their fight. We will continue the struggle for the fundamental values of liberty, justice, and autonomy as long as it takes to set them, and our city, free.”

 

For media enquiries, please contact: hkelectoralobservationmission@gmail.com

Joint remarks from the Independent Election Observation Mission (“EOM” or “Mission”)
as announced at the Press Conference at 10am on 25 Nov 2019 at W Hotel, Hong Kong.
此為獨立選舉監察任務小組聯合聲明。本聲明已於二零一九年十一月二十五日早上十時正,於香港W酒店舉行之記者會公佈。
由於時間關係,獨立選舉監察任務小組未能提供中文版本之聯合聲明。不便之處,敬請原諒。

Lord Alton commented: 

Although there were some irregularities, the elections generally proceeded efficiently and fairly and demonstrated the huge appetite in Hong Kong for more democracy, not less.

The most glaring example of improper interference in the democratic process was the heavy handed and characteristically ill judged decision to ban Joshua Wong from standing as a candidate. Uniquely singled out because of his ardent support for democratic institutions and the rule of law, this decision reflects very badly on the Hong Kong Government.

Banning candidates or parties or limiting free speech emasculates democracy.

Notwithstanding this, Joshua and the pro democracy campaigners had urged protest groups to ensure that the opportunity was given to vote in a peaceful environment.

In the light of his extraordinary example of bravery and commitment, we  presented Joshua with the Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignity. 

After five months of protests, against the Beijing appointed Administration of Carrie Lam, and massive social unrest, the people clearly saw this as an opportunity to send her a message to strengthen democracy and to listen to their voice. 

She should now recognise that violence begets violence, that political solutions are needed, that  an independent inquiry should examine the causes of the violence and who was responsible,  and consider ways of creating a clean slate so that the new district councillors can make a fresh start.   She must be very careful not to squander this opportunity.

The pan-democratic alliance fought the campaign on the basis of the five demands of the protest movement while the incumbent pro-Beijing parties oppose the calls for reform.

One of Asia’s greatest cities, many of Hong Kong’s reformers want the same opportunity to elect a city mayor – like London, Paris, New York, Berlin or Paris – instead of having a Chief Executive imposed upon them by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

The unprecedented enthusiasm for the district council elections proves there is a real desire for the election of effective politicians committed to finding peaceful political solutions to the challenges facing Hong Kong.

Many people expressed their desire to me of being given more opportunities to hold to account the city’s leaders, through the ballot box – especially in preserving basic freedoms, autonomy and the rule of law – not rule by law.

Such was the scale of the turnout that I saw long queues at polling stations as people waited patiently to vote.

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Police officers should not have been so prominent inside polling stations but I saw no attempt to openly intimidate or prevent people from voting.

Other irregularities could be better addressed by the establishment of a fully independent Electoral Commission ( to replace the government department that currently deals with complaints) and to which complaints may be made and investigated. More than 4,800 complaints had been lodged before yesterday’s elections and I met no one who expressed confidence that the Government would investigate them properly.

An independent authority would stop the Government from marking its own homework and inspire and command greater confidence .

There were some reports on social media of some voters being given material inducements to vote for Pro-Beijing candidates and the Sunday Morning Post reported suggestions of personation occurring because voters do not have to be registered at a residential address.

False voter registration is a serious issue which needs to be addressed.

An application for a judicial review into potential vote rigging, access to the electoral register, and false registration should be expedited and reforms made.

Unverifiable allegations should be taken seriously, properly investigated, findings reported and lessons learnt for the future.

At one polling station in Sha Tin I was particularly impressed by the team who were issuing ballots, by the professionalism and openness of the Presiding Officer, and by the enthusiastic and calm atmosphere which prevailed.

One of the candidates I met was Jimmy Sham, who was brutally attacked a few weeks ago – and whose story I had told in a Parliamentary Debate. He assured me that he had faced no violence during the election and it was encouraging to hear that he and his opponent had been able to put opposing views respectfully and without rancour. Jimmy was successfully elected.

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This could bode well for the future but if the Administration will waste the moment and lose a rare opportunity if it fails to respond to the elections in a positive manner.

Although only vested with limited powers the district councils are the building blocks for democracy and a place where a new generation of politicians can show their worth. Hong Kong does not have full democracy but this unprecedented turn out underlined the desire for more say, not less. The Hong Kong Government and Beijing need to hear the people’s voice, to seize and not squander the opportunity to build on these welcome foundations.

2019 Monitoring Hong Kong elections241119_Lord Alton at morning session of presentation_Hong Kong

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25 Nov 2019

Organizers’ remarks
What started as a protest against the Extradition Bill has evolved into a grassroots social movement for the protesters’ five stated goals founded on justice, democracy, freedom, and autonomy. In spite of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments’ attempts to silence dissent through increasingly repressive tactics, the people of Hong Kong remain steadfast in seeking a political solution with their resolve strengthened by the injustices they experience.

In recent months, we have seen escalating human rights violations caused by severe abuse of power by the Hong Kong Police Force, resulting in severe injuries and death.
Nonetheless, against this backdrop of suppression, intimidation, and threats, Hongkongers have made it clear that we will not be silenced. We have shown our desire for genuine democracy through unprecedented levels of political participation. Over 70% of Hong Kong’s eligible voters, including the so-called ‘silent majority’, have spoken. They have given a landslide victory to the pro-democracy parties, by 351 seats to 45 seats today as of 8:00am.
None of these victories would have been possible without the sacrifices of the thousands of protesters who have been arbitrarily arrested, assaulted, and subject to political prosecution throughout the last five months. As we deliver these remarks, Polytechnic University remains under siege by the Hong Kong Police Force, with the situation of protesters trapped on site amounting to a humanitarian crisis.

The will of the people is clear.

Hongkongers want genuine universal suffrage to elect their own representatives, which is not a gift but a promise yet to be fulfilled by Beijing. This historic District Council Election has provided a rare glimpse of optimism during these months of despair.

The landmark turnout and landslide victory remind us that democracy is crucial to enabling peaceful political change. But these election results should not blind us, nor the international community, to the fact that Hongkongers are paying an incredibly high price in their fight for political reform within the framework of meaningful autonomy. That fight is ongoing and our city remains on a cliff-edge. A truly sustainable solution to the future of Hong Kong must be built upon the principle of liberal democracy. 
The international community often implores ‘both sides’ of the Hong Kong protests to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve the current political impasse. Hongkongers have chosen democracy; now, it is up to the government and Beijing to respond in a way that honours the will of the people. We implore your government to join our fight for freedom, and to stand with Hongkongers.
We have promised our fallen brothers and sisters to carry on their fight. We will continue the struggle for the fundamental values of liberty, justice, and autonomy as long as it takes to set them, and our city, free. 

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In a letter to Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong  David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) told her that the group of international monitors, present in Hong Kong for the elections,  were unanimous in their view that an independent Electoral Commission needs to be established (to replace the State run Authority, which is seen as “marking its own homework”) and that residential registration of voters would help to prevent personation and election rigging:

 

Among our findings we said the following:

 

The delegation believes that the registration system for voters’ addresses is undesirable. They noted that voters did not previously have to submit proof of address to be registered in a constituency until early 2018; the implementation of such a policy gives rise to the possibility of vote rigging, and cases of vote planting were known to have existed. It has come to the delegation’s attention that the Final Registers of Electors/Voters is originally accessible to the general public. However, the public can no longer access it due to an interim injunction order issued by the High Court[1]. The delegation was shown a footage, originally captured by Stand News, showing how an uninformed voter was directed to vote for a particular candidate. Videos, news reports and sources related to alleged activities such as the offer of presents or red packets to voters who voted for a designated specific candidate were also shown to the delegation.

 

Given the aforementioned observations, coupled with the lack of an independent entity to verify the electoral procedure, the delegation therefore recognises that the Hong Kong electoral system is inadequate to instil confidence in the general public. There are existing loopholes, such as the lack of cross validation for registration system, within the current framework that render the electoral system prone to exploitation.

 

The EOM delegation offers the following recommendations for consideration and action of the HKSAR Government:

 

  • Uphold the freedom of speech, which is fundamental to any free and fair election;
  • Assess the feasibility of the establishment of an independent electoral committee to oversee elections;
  • Review and clarify the role of domestic and international observers, and empower these observers to conduct impartial observations and give recommendations to enhance transparency;
  • Regulate the discretionary power of officers presiding over polling stations by issuing a stringent and rigorous set of standards and protocols, in line with international standards;
  • Minimize the waiting and queuing time for voting by increasing the number of polling stations in a constituency; and
  • Prohibit the entry of police into polling stations.

Perhaps you will feel able to pursue some of these recommendations with the Hong Kong Government?

 

On a very positive note, we concluded that:

 

The delegates are pleased to witness such an unprecedented voting turnout for the Sixth District Council Election. The delegations believe that such an impressive turnout indicates an unmistakable desire on the part of the people of Hong Kong to make their voices heard within a partially democratic system, notwithstanding the current socio-political climate. By participating in district-level election in such numbers, Hongkongers across the city have shown their insistence in finding a political solution to the current impasse. The delegation also noted that in light of the ongoing political crisis, the turnout may reflect Hongkongers’ quest for democracy to elect their own representatives, be it the Legislative Council level or beyond.

 

He also drew Ms. Lam’s attention to the following posts:

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/25/at-a-ceremony-today-in-hong-kong-joshua-wong-received-the-westminster-award-for-human-rights-human-life-and-human-dignity/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/24/hong-kong-did-you-see-the-people-vote-did-you-hear-the-peoples-voice-beijing-and-their-hong-kong-government-mustnt-squander-this-historic-opportunity-to-build-political-progress/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/21/as-masked-intruders-set-fire-to-hong-kongs-epoch-times-printing-press-what-is-it-about-free-speech-that-totalitarians-hate-the-most-answers-from-liu-xiaobo-mala-yousafzai-martin-luther-king-m/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/20/will-the-uk-government-act-when-its-own-employees-are-tortured-the-fate-of-simon-cheng-graphically-illustrates-why-people-in-hong-kong-are-so-fearful-of-chinese-communism/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/17/urgent-what-is-happening-at-hong-kongs-polytechnic-university-is-truly-shocking-uk-politicians-call-on-hong-kong-chief-executive-carrie-lam-to-act-to-prevent-loss-of-life-at-hong-kong/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/16/as-red-army-soldiers-take-to-hong-kongs-streets-for-the-first-time-whats-this-clash-of-competing-ideologies-and-beliefs-all-about-china-the-view-from-over-the-wall/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/13/hong-kong-universities-turned-into-a-war-zone-can-you-hear-the-people-sing-will-you-come-and-stand-with-me/

 

https://davidalton.net/2019/10/29/joshua-wongs-disqualification-from-contesting-hong-kongs-district-council-elections-throws-doubt-on-the-legitimacy-of-the-elections-question-raised-in-parliament-link-to-thursday/

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/11/18/lord-alton-slow-motion-tiananmen-sq-unfolds-will-stand-hong-kong/

 

To read the House of Lords debate on Hong Kong, go to:

https://davidalton.net/2019/10/25/for-3-hours-the-house-of-lords-debated-hong-kong-british-politicians-united-across-all-parties-in-demanding-that-one-country-two-systems-is-honoured-both-living-former-governors-of-hong-kong/

 

Also see Joshua Wong’s letter from his time in prison …

https://davidalton.net/2019/06/13/listen-to-the-people-of-hong-kong-and-help-them-to-preserve-the-basic-law-that-protects-autonomy-and-freedom/

China and Hong Kong –  David and Goliath Struggle  –  176 Parliamentarians in the UK say that the Commonwealth should guarantee the citizenship, resettlement rights and right of abode of Hong Kong people in Commonwealth countries. See –

Why We Are All Hong Kongers Now –  On November 9th – The Day On Which The Berlin Wall Fell – Recall that Dictatorships And One Party States Can Have Their Day 

https://davidalton.net/2019/10/05/we-are-all-hong-kongers-and-taiwanese-now-%f0%9f%87%b9%f0%9f%87%bc-%f0%9f%87%ad%f0%9f%87%b0/

https://www.news.gov.hk/eng/2019/10/20191022/20191022_205840_843.html

2019 Monitoring Hong Kong elections251119_Lord Alton_Award Giving Ceremony with Joshua Wong_Hong Kong.