Hong Kong localism and independence

Hong Kong’s new localist legislators to snub October 1 festivities, calling it just ‘the national day of a neighbouring country’

Incoming Legislative Council members say they will not attend government reception for China’s National Day, calling the occasion a ‘waste of time’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 September, 2016, 10:18am

Newly elected localist legislators have snubbed an invitation from the government to a National Day reception next month, with one even vowing to stage a protest at the venue.

The invitation was seen as a move by the government to test the water on its future working relationship with the six localists, who have pledged to advocate self-determination for Hong Kong when the principle of “one country, two systems” expires in 2047.

The Home Affairs Department sent out invitations to the incoming legislators earlier this week for the reception, which takes place every year on October 1.

Polytechnic University lecturer and Civic Passion member Cheng Chung-tai, who was elected to a seat in New Territories West, said he would skip the event.

“[October 1] is just the national day of China and has little to do with Hong Kong,” he said.

Cheng did not regard the invitation as an olive branch from the government and instead argued the administration should not exercise “political screening” in handing out such invitations.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats, was for the first time not invited last year, and has yet to receive an invitation for next month’s event.

A government spokeswoman said she would not comment on the guest list.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, of the localist group Youngspiration – two new legislators who once personally backed the notion of Hong Kong independence – said they would not attend the reception, saying it celebrated “the national day of a neighbouring country”.

Occupy movement and student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who is president of the party Demosisto, told Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao he would make use of the invitation to protest at the venue.

Newcomers Shiu Ka-chun and Yiu Chung-yim, who were elected by the social welfare sector and architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector respectively, also turned down the invitation, with the latter describing the occasion as “a waste of time with nothing to celebrate”.

In stark contrast, all seven lawmakers with the Democratic Party have decided to show up, after an internal meeting held on Wednesday.

“We will attend and adopt our own means to reflect the public’s opinions to the SAR government and other attendees,” Lam Cheuk-ting said, though he refused to disclose any details.

Polytechnic University political scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah said it was a matter of courtesy to invite all lawmakers to the ceremony as the legislature is part of constitutional government.

But he said it was little surprise the localists would be lukewarm towards the occasion.

“They need to account for their voters and it would be very hard for them to soften their stance immediately,” Chung said.