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Hong Kong localism and independence

Bar association boss links Hong Kong young people’s discontent to CY Leung ahead of Beijing talks

Winnie Tam Wan-chi urges conciliatory approach by local authorities as she calls modified Legco oaths a political show

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 6:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 10:49pm

The Hong Kong Bar Association’s chairwoman says “youths’ discontent” with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is related to rising calls for independence, a topic she expects to discuss when her group meets mainland officials in Beijing this week.

The visit, which features a meeting with Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office chief Wang Guangya, coincides with the Legislative Council’s handling of pro-independence lawmakers who made controversial anti-China remarks during their swearing-in ceremony.

Dismissing the modified oaths as a political show, Winnie Tam Wan-chi, chairwoman of the association, told the Post there would be “no panacea” for pro-independence calls.

The leaders of the radical camp enjoy performing on their own stage
Winnie Tam Wan-chi, Hong Kong Bar Association chairwoman

Asked if Leung was responsible for the city’s political climate, Tam said he was not directly responsible, but added: “The youths’ discontent with the chief executive is related to the growing thought of Hong Kong independence.”

She did not expect questions on the chief executive election in March to arise in the Beijing meetings, which the country’s chief justice Zhou Qiang is also to attend.

Asked what local authorities could do to address the issue, Tam said officials should adopt a “conciliatory” approach.

“The government should understand why teenagers have so much discontent,” she said. “It should be alleviated from the core.”

But she added it would be a difficult task because some lawmakers’ approach posed a dilemma for the government.

“The leaders of the radical camp enjoy performing on their own stage,” Tam said.

Watch: three Hong Kong lawmakers have oaths rejected

At the inaugural Legco meeting last week, Youngspiration lawmakers Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation”, referring to the sovereign state as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan for China during the second world war.

The association, overseeing barristers in Hong Kong, is one of two professional legal bodies. Beijing often seeks its views when formulating constitutional policies for Hong Kong.