Public Eye

Hong Kong voters have tossed a localist time-bomb into Beijing’s court – and there’s no way to disable it

With young radicals winning 20 per cent support in the Legco elections, the city is more divided than ever

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 4:30pm

What now? Hongkongers have planted a time-bomb in Beijing’s backyard. The ticking sound was heard all over the city on Sunday when nearly 20 per cent of voters, over 400,000 people, backed localist and independence advocates, propelling six into the legislature.

No one knows when, how or if that bomb will explode. But it’s there, like an aneurysm. Two weeks ago, I wrote that anyone who tells you separatism is just a passing fad among the young is either an idiot or takes you for one. Need I say more?

You can dismiss 20 per cent as impressive, not momentous. But think about it. It’s almost half of the establishment camp’s 45 per cent and over half of the traditional democrats’ 35 per cent. That’s formidable for a bunch of young upstarts. What’s Beijing to do? The bomb is in its court. It can’t toss it back. It has to disable it. But how?

When I described the newly elected localist legislators as young kids in a TV interview with Civic Party legislator Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, who was re-elected on Sunday, he retorted that we can no longer call them young kids because they have become “honourables”.

Beijing’s problem is its mindset. It treats the loyalist voice as the true voice

He’s right. Demosisto’s 23-year-old Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who reaped nearly 51,000 votes, just behind Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, is now officially The Honourable Nathan Law Kwun-chung. He and his cohorts care little that Beijing brands them as dishonourable traitors. They only care how Hongkongers brand them. They got their answer from 20 per cent of voters. That has given them the cockiness to proclaim they are now the new voice of Hong Kong.

Actually, Hong Kong now has three voices, each claiming to represent the people – the loyalists, the localists, and the traditional democrats. Beijing’s problem is its mindset. It treats the loyalist voice as the true voice. The traditional democrats delude themselves into believing all will be well if Beijing banishes Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Victory has intoxicated the localists with the notion that Beijing must now bow to them. Indeed, Yeung and others say Beijing must now listen.

But listening alone gets you nowhere. The opposition wants listening to produce so-called true democracy, self-determination, and China as our sovereign only in name. Beijing wants listening to produce a patriotic Hong Kong that considers itself an inseparable part of China.

Talk about being poles apart. Disabling the time-bomb? No way.