70 Percent District Council Seats Are Vacant After Mass Arrests of Pro-Democracy Councilors; HK Plan to Add More Pro-CCP Members

Former councilor: The District Council is almost wiped out

70 Percent District Council Seats Are Vacant After Mass Arrests of Pro-Democracy Councilors; HK Plan to Add More Pro-CCP Members
After the 2021 disqualification rounds, resignation due to the government's pressure, and arrests of the pro-democracy parties, the Hong Kong District Council currently has 70 percent empty seats. The photo was taken at a Mongkok District Council meeting in 2020. (Photo by Max Lin/ The Epoch Times)

In 2019, democracy took over Hong Kong District Council Election when Hong Kong democratic figures celebrated a landslide electoral win. Their victory was short-lived, however, after waves of disqualification and resignation.

Under the National Security Law, most pan-dem legislators have been thrown to jail, exiled, or migrated to the west permanently, resulting in about 70 percent of vacant seats in the district council.

The current term of the District Council expires on Dec. 31, 2023. Pro-CCP party DAB, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, recently proposed a significant reduction in the elected seats in the District Council and an increase in the number of indirectly elected or appointed chairs.

Former district councilors describe the current state of the district council as "close to its collapsing end," and other current and former members have zero influence.

They also estimated about 50 to 100 people have already fled Hong Kong.

In 2019, the anti-extradition movement broke out, and the democrats and non-establishment factions won the election by a landslide and dominated 17 district councils and 388 seats.

In 2021, the Hong Kong government leaked a rumor that any legislators who get disqualified after their sworn-in ceremony will have to pay back their salary of one million Hong Kong dollars. That caused a lot of district councilors to resign before the ceremony had even happened. On top of a mass amount of resignations, many of the councilor's sworn declarations were made invalid.

The wipeout of democrats caused 333 vacant seats in the council.

As of Sept. 26, 53 nongovernment and 93 pro-Beijing members are in place. The pro-democracy camp has lost its advantage.

Mass Arrest and Persecution of Pro-democracy Councilors

Many pro-democracy district councilors have been arrested and prosecuted in different cases. Some of them are remanded for trials for over a year without bail; others are serving jail time or released from prison.

The case involving the most significant number of district councilors was the “pro-democracy primary election.” Among the Fifty-four democratic politicians arrested, 47 were charged with organizing or participating in subversion of state power under the National Security Law (NSL). Of the 47, only 13 were granted bail, and the remaining defendants were placed on pending trial for over 18 months.

Of the 47, 25 district councilors were arrested, including former Civil Human Rights Front Convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, veteran councilor Claudia Mo Man-ching, and social activist Lester Shum O-fai. Former Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam was also one of the arrested district councilors.

In all pan-demographic camps, only Ray Kwong Chun-yu and To Kun-sun escaped the political retaliation.

June 4 Tiananmen Square Vigil 2020

The Hong Kong government banned the June 4 Tiananmen Square Vigil in 2020, citing “due to pandemic concerns.” Although the National Security Bureau refused the commemoration, people still showed up independently at Victory Park, an annual tradition for the vigil for the past 30 years. The Hong Kong Police had approved the event and coordinated with the organizers for the past 30 years until 2020 after the regime passed the national security law in Hong Kong.
Under the National Security Law, 24 democratic figures were arrested and charged with "inciting others to participate in unauthorized assembly" or "participating in an unauthorized assembly." The national security-appointed judges sentenced them to prison terms of from 6 to 14 months.

District Councilors Arrested or Wanted by the ICAC

In 202o, the ICAC arrested former district councilor and social worker Tsang Kam Wing he was charged with one count of submitting a false or misleading election declaration and one count of fraud, he was subsequently released on bail. On Sept 23, Tsang was arrested at Hong Kong airport by Immigration Officials while preparing to board a flight to the Philippines,  he was traveling with a group of students whom he was planning to teach diving.

As of Sept. 26, the registered social worker is on bail. The case has been postponed to November 18.

Tsang was active in serving his community before the arrest.

In July, former district councilor Cheung Kam-hung was also arrested by the ICAC and charged with inciting others to cast invalid votes during the Legislative Council Election in 2021.

ICAC also issued arrest warrants for five other former District Council members, including exile Ted Hui Chi-fung, who is currently overseas

Former District Councilors Fled Hong Kong

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Rick Hui Yui-yu, former Sha Tin District Councilor, estimated that at least 50 to 100 former District Councilors must have left Hong Kong. Hui is currently residing in the UK.

Some former councilors have migrated to the west to continue speaking for Hongkongers.

For instance, Woo Yiu-cheung became a Canadian community outreach and communications consultant for Hong Kong Watch.

District Councils Almost Disintegrated

Former Yau Tsim Wong District councilor Lam Siu-bun stated, "The current District Council is almost disintegrated. No one has political influence in Hong Kong anymore."

Lam pointed out that many pro-Beijing parties had proposed a 20 percent reduction in election seats. The reduction would reflect what Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu might announce in the Policy Address in October.  "The Hong Kong government plans to appoint many pro-communist party people to become the following district councilors or indirectly elected councilors through the District Committee, the Crime Suppression Committee, and the Fire Prevention Committee.

Lam, a former member of the Fire Prevention Committee, criticized that everyone in the district committees is pro-CCP members appointed by the government. “These include school headmasters, senior officials of social welfare organizations, and pro-Beijing political figures.”

Lam elaborated further, “Most of these so-called appointed members lack representation because the people in the districts do not vote for them. The public does not approve of them. Hence their opinions can never truly represent the communities they serve.”

## Nie Law and Yat Lam contributed to the article.