Radical localists have pressed the self-destruct button
Sadly, their only real legacy will have been to give Beijing the perfect excuse to intervene in Hong Kong affairs
If a recent poll is anything to go by, localist-inspired separatism has just self-imploded. The June study – by the Chinese University’s centre for communication and public opinion survey – finds that only 14.8 per cent of people aged between 15 and 24 support independence for Hong Kong, down from 39.2 per cent last year. Meanwhile, 43 per cent from the same age groups oppose independence, compared to 26 per cent a year ago.
A single poll may not be representative, but the localist movement is certainly losing steam. Cheng Chung-tai is just the latest so-called radical to be exposed for his questionable character and political judgment. The Civic Passion chairman and legislator was caught cursing ousted lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching and dismissing the public as “retarded”.
Edward Leung Tin-kei, once a localist star who threatened the need to spill blood, went overseas to pursue studies on independence movements after calling himself “a coward”. Wong Yuk-man and Horace Chin Wan-kan, the so-called fathers of localism, have been the ones most looked up to by young radicals. Both men now spend more time attacking each other and their own one-time followers than anything else.
Wong single-handedly caused more splits and disputes within the pan-democratic and localist camps than anyone. Just think of all the groups he had split from, causing deep-seated resentments along the way. He went from the League of Social Democrats in the early 2010s to People Power, the Proletariat Political Institute, Civic Passion and finally a so-called alliance with Chin by the combined acronyms CP-PPI-HKRO, only for both men to lose in the last Legislative Council elections.
But let’s not forget the crucial role Wong played in the original spit within the pan-democratic camp that has been at the root of its disarray. That was after the Democratic Party held not-so-secret meetings with Beijing in 2010 that led to a significant expansion of the franchise in the 2012 Legco elections.
That marked the start of local radicalism, when Wong and others helped whip up hysteria against the Democrats. If only the pan-dems had been able to continue dialogue and build trust with the central government!
But with so many leaders discredited, radical localism is burning itself out. Sadly, its only real legacy will have been to give Beijing the perfect excuse to intervene in Hong Kong affairs.