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500,000 Hong Kongers cast ‘protest’ vote against new security laws

By: Reuters | Hong Kong |

Revealed: July 12, 2020 6:07:59 pm

Stickers with messages of the pro-democracy motion are left by protesters on a avenue in Hong Kong. (Supply: AP Picture)

Lots of of hundreds of Hong Kong residents queued to cast ballots over the weekend in what the Chinese language-ruled metropolis’s opposition camp says is a symbolic protest vote against robust nationwide security laws instantly imposed by Beijing.

The unofficial ballot will determine the strongest pro-democracy candidates to contest Legislative Council elections in September, once they goal to experience a wave of anti-China sentiment stirred by the regulation to grab management for the primary time from pro-Beijing rivals.

Whereas the primaries are just for the opposition camp, observers are watching intently as they are saying the turnout will function a check of broader opposition to the regulation, which critics say will gravely undermine the town’s freedoms.

“A high turnout will send a very strong signal to the international community, that we Hong Kongers never give up,” stated Sunny Cheung, 24, certainly one of a batch of aspiring younger democrats out lobbying and giving stump speeches.

“And that we still stand with the democratic camp, we still support democracy and freedom.”

Defying warnings from a senior Hong Kong official that the vote may fall foul of the nationwide security regulation, residents younger and outdated flocked to over 250 polling stations throughout the town, manned by hundreds of volunteers.

Lengthy queues fashioned down streets, in residential estates and at businesses-turned-polling stations, with folks casting a web-based poll on their cellphones after having their identities verified.

Organisers stated 500,000 folks had voted by late afternoon on Sunday, within the metropolis of seven.5 million. The complete turnout is anticipated to be introduced on Monday morning after two full days of voting this weekend.

The regulation punishes what China describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas forces with as much as life in jail and permits mainland security brokers to function formally in Hong Kong for the primary time.

Regardless of this tactical vote to maximise their probabilities, some pro-democracy activists worry authorities will attempt to cease some candidates from working in September’s election.

“They can arrest or disqualify any candidate they don’t like under the national security law without a proper reason,” stated Owen Chow, a younger democratic “localist” candidate.

At a time when Hong Kong authorities have barred public marches and rallies for months on finish amid coronavirus social restrictions, and arrested people for shouting slogans and holding up clean sheets of paper, the vote is being seen as a vital and uncommon window for populist expression.

“It’s a proxy referendum against the national security law,” stated Democratic lawmaker Eddie Chu outdoors a metro station.

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