A senior government official of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Sunday. [Photo/VCG]

HONG KONG – A senior government official of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Sunday appealed to the public to return to rationality and end violence so as to ensure the imminent district council elections take place in a peaceful and orderly way.

In an article published on the government website, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung called on all parties of the society to keep calm and restraint, and respect and tolerate people with different political views as the polling day scheduled for Nov 24 is only one week away.

Hong Kong is an open, inclusive and diversified society under the rule of law and boasts a good election culture, Cheung said. However, as violent incidents continued to grip the society, the HKSAR government has faced unprecedented challenges in election preparations, he said.

Recently, candidates were attacked in the campaigns, their campaign teams and supporters were threatened, offices of a number of district councilors were severely sabotaged and even set on fire, he noted.

“Such acts posed a grave threat to public safety and the (HKSAR) government expressed strong condemnation,” Cheung said, adding that the government will do its utmost to ensure that the elections proceed in a fair, open, safe and honest manner.

He also warned a violation of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance is a criminal offense which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a HK$500,000 fine ($63,900).

“I hope radical protesters can immediately stop all violence and meanwhile I appeal to all citizens to say no to violence so as to restore social order and let the elections be conducted smoothly in a peaceful environment,” Cheung said.

In the upcoming district council elections slated to be held next Sunday (Nov 24), 1,090 validly-nominated candidates will compete for 452 seats in 18 districts. More than 600 ordinary polling stations will be open for about 4.13 million registered electors.