Former pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin on Wednesday (15/7) morning said he was immediately stepping down from his role as one of the coordinators of the pan-democratic democratic primaries, citing allegations from Beijing that the exercise of the so-called “primaries” might violate Hong Kong’s national security law.
Over the weekend, more than 610,000 residents in Hong Kong cast their votes in the primaries for the Legislative Council election in September held by pro-democracy activists in the city.
On a Facebook post, Au said he would withdraw from all duties related to the pro-democracy primaries immediately due to the accusation from Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council recently.
The Liaison Office and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office on Monday and Tuesday issued a statement respectively blasting that the primaries could be in breach of the national security law in the city.
Au, also a former member of the Southern District Council, wrote on the social media post that though the pan-democratic camp had been emphasised repeatedly that the primary poll was legal, the ruling coalition seemed insisting another unexpected view that was creating the risk of his personal safety.
“Withdrawal is the only choice that I can protect myself and others,” Au said. “It is a hard decision with apology. I hope everyone could understand my limitations.”
On Wednesday morning, Au attended a hearing of the case which he was charged with unlawful assembly on August 18 last year, when the Civil Human Rights Front held a massive rally in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.
Au told reporters outside the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts that duties related to a primary election should be legal and reasonable if the primary election was held in a normal society, noting the Hong Kong society is currently not normal and does not talk reason.
No matter how he reiterated the reasonableness of the primaries, he will be under enormous pressure, Au said, adding he is no longer able to do this kind of work. “I feel my commitment has reached his limitations. [The work] may also cause personal danger,” he said.
When asked whether he was given any warning, Au said he did not experience noticeable pressure at the moment, but quite a number of people had recently expressed their concern over him. Further asked whether the people who expressed concern over were officials from the central government, Au declined to give any comment.
According to Au, the administration’s recent efforts to crack down on dissents allegedly started from accusations pro-Beijing media outlets, followed by government departments, and even administrative procedures.
Au said, given his withdrawal from duties concerning the primaries, he did not wish to give people a wrong impression that the nature of the primaries is problematic. He said he had communicated with other coordinators of the primaries but different people had their own decisions.