Youngest lawmaker vows to quit Hong Kong’s Legco aged just 32 if he wins second term

Youngest lawmaker in the city’s legislature said remaining too long in position might breed complacency

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 6:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 2:47am

Nathan Law Kwun-chung said that politics would not be his lifelong career, as he aimed to be a lawmaker for only two terms.

“I’m afraid if I’m in this position for too long, I’ll become lethargic and complacent with the status quo,” Law, 24, said days before he is to be sworn in.

“To bring about social change, one needs passion, and his senses not to be blunted.”

Law, the only student leader of Occupy Central who ran for the Legislative Council polls last month, is the youngest member of the new legislature and still has two more years to go in university.

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He was also among the new lawmakers who set themselves apart from traditional pan-democrats, holding different views from them on many issues, including the city’s political future and relationship with civil society.

“Legco has been somewhat alienated from civil society. Some lawmakers were unable to have a good grasp of sentiments in society,” he said. “I am thinking hard on how to bring the two closer together, so that what civil society cares about can be brought to the council agenda.”

Law, who is now looking for an office to serve his voters in the Hong Kong Island constituency, said he will not be satisfied with just doing things like “measuring blood pressure or filling in forms” for the elderly or those who need help to apply for public services.

His office would serve to reunite “umbrella soldiers” who still wanted to contribute to the democratic cause after the sit-ins two years ago. The former leader of the Federation of Students would also tap university student communities to find volunteers.

In Legco, he aimed to divide the work with allies Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Lau Siu-lai, while focusing more on education issues.

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At the top of his agenda is reforming the governance structure of publicly funded universities, which allows the chief executive to appoint members to the institutions’ councils, an arrangement students argue would let the government push forward decisions that hurt academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

But on his election pledge – to launch Hong Kong’s self-determination – Law admitted the city has a long way to go. “To be frank, there is not much we can do in the next four years,” he said. “The road to self-determination is very long, and what we can do now is start the discussion and focus people’s energy on the issue.”

His party Demosisto has pledged to organise a civil referendum during the chief executive election in March, as well as one in ten years, on whether Hongkongers should have the right to self-determination. Law said the plan was to join a possible poll to be conducted by a university which gauges public opinion on election candidates so that his party can insert that particular question.

“But if no one is doing such a poll, we may not have the [funds] to hold a separate vote.”