By Helene Fung
The Hong Kong government has previously announced it was considered cancelling the district council election planned for Sunday, citing safety concerns due to recent unrests.
However, plans appear to be going ahead, relocation of some polling places notwithstanding.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang announced on Friday that they plan to deploy “a high profile presence around polling stations” on Sunday to ensure that people feel safe, and “can cast their ballots in the district council elections without any interference”.
Usually, district councillors are primarily preoccupied with local issues. However, the timing of this election, after five months of political protests and unrests in Hong Kong, means it is being watched closely as a de facto referendum on the Hong Kong Government’s performance.
The population of Hong Kong is about 7 million, of which 4.1 million have registered to vote. Will more rally behind pro-democracy candidates as a statement of disapproval for the government?
Or will more support the pro-establishment, pro-Beijing parties that are better resourced and already hold a majority of seats?
British parliamentarian, Lord Alton of Liverpool, posted on Facebook on Saturday that he has accepted an invitation from pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong to monitor the election.
Lord Alton said he was also “keen to offer encouragement” to activist Joshua Wong, who has been disqualified from standing in this election.
He plans to deliver to Mr Wong the Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignity, after Mr Wong – who is currently on bail after being arrested during the protests – was recently denied the right to travel to the UK to accept the award.