Lau Siu-lai was banned this month from contesting the Legislative Council by-election in Kowloon West on Nov 25 because the Electoral Affairs Commission doubted her motives, and there was an unseemly rush to judgment. A spokesman for the British consul general, for example, complained that the right to stand for election is enshrined in the Basic Law's Article 26, which is quite correct, but only up to a point. What Article 26 actually does is to provide permanent residents with a right to stand for election "in accordance with law". The right, therefore, is not absolute, and can, for good reason, be limited by local legislation, as happens elsewhere.


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