Hong Kong Catholics worried over new election rules

(UCAN) Hong Kong Diocese will send 10 Catholics to join the election committee who will vote for a new Chief Executive in 2017, but some are worried about new requirements.

Local Catholics fret that the diocese has too much power to filter applicants to join a total of 50 religious representatives in an election committee of 1,200.  

Since the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, the diocese has refused to send representatives to vote because it disagrees with the system where a small committee represents 7 million Hong Kongers.

But on Oct. 14, the diocese announced arrangements for Catholics to join the committee for the first time. Any Catholic who wants to apply is required to submit several documents to verify their identity; if there are more than 10 applications the final decision will be made by drawing lots.

The applicant should provide “[1] a copy of his/her Identity card; [2] a copy of his/her baptism certificate; [3] evidence in support of a substantial connection with the Catholic Church,” according to the announcement. 

In a new addition, the third requirement must be proved with “a document indicating: membership of a lay association/ church organization, or participation in a formation program, or a service rendered to a parish or to the diocese; a letter issued by a parish priest attesting to the applicant’s links with a parish, et cetera.”

Stephen Sui, a university student, said that these requirements gave too much power to the diocese. “The new arrangements for this election really make people worry that the diocese will take an active role in filtering applicants,” he said. [More]