Legco resumed the second reading of the Improving Electoral System Bill yesterday. Authorities fast tracked discussions in order to meet tight election schedules, with three upcoming elections to be held within the next 10 months.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairwoman of the New People's Party, suggested yesterday that the SAR and central government list objective standards for candidates.

"They should be able to allocate time to execute their duties as lawmakers, and be physically capable and knowledgeable," Ip said.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong brushed off claims the changes are "a step backward for democracy."

She said: "It is a step up in the quality of Hong Kong's democracy by stating the threshold for 'patriots administering Hong Kong,' increasing the representativeness of the Election Committee and Legco, and tackling the problem of the elections having too low a threshold."

On the other hand, Cheng Chung-tai from the Civic Passion raised concerns over Legco candidates having to obtain nominations from Election Committee members.

Once the amendments are approved, the Election Committee will include 300 more members. The number of seats in Legco will be expanded to 90 and the number of lawmakers elected directly by voters will be cut to 20 from 35 previously.

The police's national security department will check the backgrounds of candidates for public office and the newly-introduced Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will ensure those candidates are patriotic.

The government announced earlier that the Election Committee election is scheduled for September 19, the Legco elections for December 19, and the chief executive election for March 27.