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c. 限制以上基本權利的措施必須按照狹義解釋及只能依法施行 。
5. 雖然法庭在陳浩天 訴 羅應祺及其他人  2 HKLRD 7 一案中，的確就《立法會條例》（第542章）第40(1)(b)(i)條（「該條文」）訂下對立法會獲提名候選人的具體要求，但這些要求不能就此套用到鄉郊代表選舉。陳浩天一案的判決是根據該條文獨有的立法歷史及《基本法》第104條指明適用於立法會成員，而非鄉郊代表。
8. 最後，鄉郊代表的職能具高地區性。與立法會議員不同，鄉郊代表並非「香港的高級官員」。 鄉郊代表的職能為代表該村的居民就該村的事務反映意見。 特區政府支持以某人的政治觀點為由而限制該人參選這類公職的立場實令人非常擔憂，因為此種限制標誌著香港人的思想和言論自由被進一步削弱。
1. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is outraged by the Decision (the “Decision”) made by a Returning Officer that Chu Hoi Dick Eddie (“Chu”) is not validly nominated as a candidate in the 2019 Rural Ordinary Election. The Decision violates the rights of Chu and of voters, and lacks proper legal basis. In effect, it constitutes political censorship.
2. Chu was nominated as a candidate for Resident Representative for Existing Village Yuen Kong San Tsuen (Pat Heung). Despite Chu’s responses to the relevant Returning Officer’s questions stating that he did not support Hong Kong independence, the Returning Officer decided that Chu did not have the requisite intention to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”), and hence was not validly nominated under section 24 of the Rural Representative Election Ordinance (Cap. 576) (“RREO”). The HKSAR Government also issued a response specifying that it agrees to, and supports, the Decision (the “Response”).
3. Since 2016, 9 nominees in Legislative Council elections have been disqualified from running, including Agnes Chow in January 2018, and Lau Siu Lai in October 2018. We are dismayed that our criticisms of those disqualifications as set out in our previous statements still apply to the present case, including that:-
a. The Decision threatens Hong Kong permanent residents’ fundamental rights to vote and to stand for election;
b. The Decision threatens Hong Kong permanent residents’ fundamental right of free speech; and
c. Restrictions on such fundamental rights must be interpreted narrowly and can only be made in accordance with law.
4. In addition, it is doubtful that the Returning Officer had the authority to investigate whether Chu had the “requisite intention to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR”. On its face, section 24 of the RREO only imposes a procedural requirement on the nominee to sign a declaration to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR.
5. While it was held in Chan Ho Tin v Lo Ying Ki Alan & Ors  2 HKLRD 7 that section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) (“LCO”) does impose a substantive requirement on a nominee for candidacy in the Legislative Council, that cannot simply be transposed here. The Chan Ho Tin case was based upon the specific legislative history of section 40(1) of the LCO and Article 104 of the Basic Law, which specifically apply to members of the Legislative Council but not to rural representatives.
6. In addition, the legal position in respect of Legislative Council elections may yet change since there are ongoing election petitions and related appeals on the issue at the moment. As a side note, the present situation aptly illustrates the importance of expediency in hearing and resolving election petitions and related appeals.
7. Furthermore, even upon the Returning Officer’s own case that he is empowered to disqualify a nominee “in a plain case where there are cogent, clear and compelling materials which would demonstrate to an objectively reasonable person that the candidate plainly cannot have the intention [to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to HKSAR]”, Chu’s situation does not warrant such conclusion. In the Decision, the Returning Officer could only argue at best that one may have “doubt” as to whether Chu had the requisite intent, or that his answers “can be understood” to “implicitly” confirm that he supports independence as an option. Such reasoning is plainly insufficient to support the Decision given its grave consequences.
8. Finally, the function of a rural representative is highly localised. Unlike a member of the Legislative Council, a rural representative is not a “high office holder of Hong Kong”. A resident representative is to reflect views on the affairs of the village on behalf of residents of the village. The fact that the HKSAR Government would support a ban on a person from running for such a post for their political views is highly worrying, as it represents increasing violations of Hong Kong people’s freedoms of conscience and expression.
9. In its Response, the HKSAR Government supported the Decision and blandly asserted that “there is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections as alleged by some members of the community” without any further explanation. We are dismayed with the HKSAR Government’s position. As the HKSAR Government is obligated to protect the fundamental rights of Hong Kong residents, it should instead disagree with the Decision. Furthermore, as the Returning Officer ought to be politically neutral, his decisions ought to be supported by independent legal advice. We urge the HKSAR Government to clarify whether any legal opinion or advice was offered to the Returning Officer, and to give due respect to fundamental rights protected under the Basic Law.
Progressive Lawyers Group
6th December 2018