Ronny Tong’s resignation from Legco has fuelled the fires of radical localism

When the winner of Tong’s seat, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, takes his seat in Legco, he will undoubtedly pander to the more extreme and uncompromising elements in our body politic today

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 February, 2016, 11:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:36pm

Ronny Tong Ka-wah should not have quit the Legislative Council. When the former Civic Party leader resigned from his seat in Legco, he complained about how moderate pan-democrats like him were increasingly marginalised while extremists had taken hold of their camp.

His resignation, which triggered the by-election in New Territories East, has ironically added fuel to extremist politics and created a more powerful platform for radicals to take over. Edward Leung Tin-kei of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, which advocates independence, received 66,524 votes. The strong showing has made Leung, currently facing a charge for his alleged role in the Mong Kok riot, a household name. However while many of us deplore independence – and violence-seeking radicals, Leung has undeniably become a potent political force that will not go away anytime soon.

The winner, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, of the Civic Party, narrowly beat arch-rival Holden Chow Ho-ding from the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, with 160,880 votes to the latter’s 150,329. Clearly, he lost a lot of votes not so much to Chow as to the localist Leung.

At first sight, it may look like business as usual. A Civic Party candidate has managed to retain the seat in Legco for his group. But the Civic Party today is as different from the one originally co-founded by Tong as day is to night. When Tong quit in the summer of last year, he bemoaned the path that the Civic Party has taken since the end of 2009 and how much it has deviated from its founding values.

It may not be calling for independence, and its members dress more nicely and stylishly than many Legco radicals. But its politics are virtually indistinguishable from the more radicalised League of Social Democrats. And it fully endorses disruptive politics from endless filibustering to physical confrontations within the Legco chamber and without.

After it was widely reported that more than 90 police officers were injured in the Mong Kok riot compared to a handful of rioters, Yeung denounced the police for brutality.

When he takes his seat in Legco, he will undoubtedly pander to the more extreme and uncompromising elements in our body politic today. And Tong has inadvertently helped him to it.