A group of establishment-leaning Hong Kong principals have signed up as candidates for seats on the powerful 1,500-member committee that will pick the city’s leader, vowing in the process to end the opposition’s domination of their subsector and to strengthen national education in schools.
In addition to the 13 educators, 17 representatives of the wholesale and retail subsector also submitted the forms for their candidacy on Monday, three days before the nomination period for the Election Committee polls was set to end. So far, candidates have submitted their forms in 21 of the revamped body’s 36 subsectors.
The Election Committee race, to be held on September 19, will be the first since Beijing’s drastic shake-up of the city’s electoral system aimed at ensuring only “patriots” hold power. The overhaul expanded the committee by 300 seats, and empowered it to not only pick the city’s chief executive, but also to nominate all lawmakers and even field representatives of its own to the legislature.
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Who are the ‘patriotic sector’ voters of Hong Kong’s powerful Election Committee?
The 13 members of the newly formed Education Professional Alliance – drawn from organisations such as the pro-establishment Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (HKFEW) and the pressure group Education Convergence – who signed up on Monday were the only ones to announce their candidacy in the education subsector so far.
Speaking in a press conference, Wong Kam-leung, chairman of the HKFEW, said the alliance represented different voices in the subsector, and would “break the monopolisation of the Professional Teachers’ Union” in the field.
The opposition-leaning PTU, which previously announced it would not be fielding any candidates, has found itself in authorities’ crosshairs of late. The Education Bureau recently severed all ties with the 95,000-strong union – the largest of its kind – accusing it of inciting pupils and teachers to join the 2019 anti-government protests, an accusation first levelled by Chinese state media and denied by the PTU.