The rise of the localists fighting for seats on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council
As some 3.7 million voters prepare to go to the polls on September 4, we chart the growing popularity of localist groups fighting for seats on the Legco
In the wake of the Occupy movement the number of localist and activist groups has mushroomed, and now their members are looking to “keep the struggle alive” as they hope to win seats in September’s Legislative Council elections.
Some of these youth-led groups, such as Hong Kong Indigenous and the Hong Kong National Party, shot into the spotlight by advocating a highly contentious drive – secession – which prompted the city’s election watchdog to require aspirants to sign a declaration that states Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
Others, including Demosisto and Youngspiration, are singing a subtly different tune by packaging the cause in a seemingly more moderate way. Both groups stop short of backing independence but instead demand a referendum in five or 10 years’ time to allow Hongkongers to determine their own future beyond 2047, when the “one country, two systems” formula expires.
If they have one thing in common however, it would be their effort to steer clear of the traditional pan-democrats – whom they unanimously describe as being too mild, unhelpful and outdated.
In the 2012 election, the pan-democratic camp secured 54 per cent of the vote share – 16 per cent of it was garnered by the radicals – and the pro-establishment force received some 41 per cent.
But the balance looks set to be disrupted this year.
At least 20 localist or radical candidates have joined the fray to run head-to-head with pan-democrats in all five geographical constituencies. New Territories East, where only nine seats are up for grabs, has drawn 21 lists of candidates, six of whom are from the radical-localist stance.
Polytechnic University commentator Dr Chung Kim-wah said the spectrum of the radicals and localists has widened following developments over the past few years, but the supporter base, he said, was definitely insufficient for every ambitious newcomer to win a seat.
“Some new and confident aspirants really do not have a strong connection in the community,” he said. “They might not make it to Legco, but they definitely have the ability to snatch some pro-democracy votes and eventually hand some seats to their opponents.”
The League of Social Democrats, People Power and NeoDemocrats – the existing radicals and localists in the Legco –would be the most affected, said Chung, while the other parties such as the Democrats and the Civics would face a milder impact.
Edward Leung Tin-kei, of Hong Kong Indigenous who lost the February by-election by scoring 16 per cent of votes – a surprise high for many – once said that the city’s bipartite politics had already become a battle between three blocs – the pan-democrats, the localists and the pro-establishment camp.
That statement will be tested on September 4 as the city’s some 3.7 million of voters head to the polls.
HOW LOCALISM BEGAN
1972: Hong Kong was removed from the list of colonial territories by the United Nations General Assembly following the request by People’s Republic of China, which argued the occupation of Hong Kong by the British was a result of “unequal treaties”. The removal, without triggering much controversy, was regarded as a turning point of the city’s future as it ruled out Hongkongers’ right to self-determination, including secession.
1984: Britain and the People’s Republic of China co-signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The treaty stated that the latter would resume its sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. Hong Kong would retain a “high degree of autonomy” under the “one country, two systems” principle. The general public in Hong Kong was not consulted over the deal at any stage.
1997: The city’s handover to the PRC.
2003: More than 500,000 Hongkongers took to the streets against a national security bill based on Article 23 of the Basic Law, fearing it would curb their freedoms and rights. The government shelved the bill, but many believed the defeat led to Beijing’s liaison office increasing interference in the city’s interal affairs.
2011: Lingnan University scholar Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan published Hong Kong as a City-state - a book which was widely seen as an inspiration for today’s localism.
2012: Tensions between mainlanders and Hongkongers escalated with the former accused of hogging public hospitals and schools.
2014: Pro-democracy Occupy movement broke out. More young people leaned toward localism and radical protest methods after the 79-day sit-ins failed to bear fruit.
2015: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accused University of Hong Kong’s student magazine Undergrad of “putting forward fallacies” about self-determination. Protests broke out against parallel goods-traders and mainland tourists.
2016: Hong Kong Indigenous leader Edward Leung Tin-kei, who advocates independence, secured 16 per cent of votes in a Legco by-election.
Candidate lists running in Hong Kong Islands: Ted Hui Chi-fung, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Aron Kwok Wai-keung, Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Paul Zimmerman, Ricky Wong Wai-kay, Tanya Chan, Shum Chee-chiu, Gary Wong Chi-him, Christopher Lau Gar-hung, Chim Pui-chung, Cheng Kam-mun, Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Chui Chi-kin.
Candidate lists running in Kowloon West: Tam Kwok-kiu, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, Tik Chi-yuen, Yau Wai-ching, Helena Wong Pik-wan, Lau Siu-lai, Ann Chiang Lai-wan, Augustine Lee Wing-hon, Chu Siu-hung, Claudia Mo Man-ching, Wong Yuk-man, Jonathan Ho Chi-kwong, Kwan San-wai, Lam Yi-lai and Avery Ng Man-yuen.
Candidate lists running in Kowloon East: Wilson Or Chong-shing, Wu Chi-wai, Chan Chak-to, Wu Sui-shan, Tam Heung-man, Wong Kwok-kin, Jeremy Tam Man-ho, Paul Tse Wai-chun, Lui Wing-kei, Tam Tak-chi, Wong Yeung-tat and Patrick Ko Tat-pan.
Candidate lists running in New Territories West: Ben Chan Han-pan, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Wong Chun-kit, Chan Ho-tin, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, Chow Wing-kan, Michael Tien Puk-sun, Leung Che-cheung, Wong Yun-tat, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Kwok Ka-ki, Alice Mak Mei-kuen, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Raphael Wong Ho-ming, Lee Cheuk-yan, Tong Wing-chi, Clarice Cheung Wai-ching, Ko Chi-fai, Cheng Chung-tai and Nakade Hitsujiko.
Candidate lists running in New Territories East: Lam Cheuk-ting, Eunice Yung Hoi-yan, Edward Leung TIn-kei, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Dominic Lee Tsz-king, Elizabeth Quat, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Gary Chan Hak-kan, Hau Chi-keung, Tang Ka-piu, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Leung Kwok-hung, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Raymond Mak Ka-chun, Leticia Lee See-yin, Liu Tin-shing, Horace Chin Wan-kan, Estella Chan Yuk-ngor, Wong Sum-yu and Andrew Cheng Kar-foo.
Candidate lists running for the super seats:
Sumly Chan Yuen-sum, Starry Lee Wai-king, Holden Chow Ho-ding, Leung Yiu-chung, James To Kun-sun, Kwong Chun-yu, Kalvin Ho Kai-ming, Wong Kwok-hing and Kwan Wing-yip.