Radical Hong Kong lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung keen on ice-breaking trip to Guangdong

First pan-dems indicate they will take up offer after Beijing said it would lift entry restrictions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 December, 2016, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 December, 2016, 11:07pm

Some of Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers who are banned from travelling to mainland China may be crossing the border for the first time in decades by joining an official trip to Guangdong next year.

The visit, scheduled for February by the Legislative Council to inspect Dongjiang water facilities that supply Hong Kong, follows Beijing’s confirmation on November 30 that it would lift entry restrictions imposed on pan-democratic lawmakers – for decades in some cases.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung from the League of Social Democrats and Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre are two of the first pan-democrats to express an interest in joining the trip. Neither lawmaker has the home return permit that is required of permanent Hong Kong ID card holders travelling to the mainland.

It is my responsibility to go and I would not mind joining the visit
Leung Kwok-hung, lawmaker

“It is my responsibility to go and I would not mind joining the visit,” Leung said. “But the government should first clarify whether my identity is that of a member of Legco before I decide whether to go, as I cannot participate in the inspection as citizen Leung Kwok-hung.”

The two lawmakers were among the first to reject Beijing’s olive branch in November, saying they would not apply to have their permits renewed because they remained sceptical about the central government’s sincerity.

Newly elected legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung of student group Demosisto stuck to his guns on Friday in shunning the ice-breaking opportunity and accused Beijing of showing false signs of good faith.

He said he was not interested in applying for a permit at the moment, and demanded an explanation as to why his travel document was cancelled in the first place during the pro-democracy Occupy movement.

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Veteran Democrat James To Kun-sun said party colleague ­Helena Wong Pik-wan would be joining the trip as water quality was her area of specialty, but he himself was not interested in applying for a permit.

Former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said arrangements should be made as soon as possible if the central government really intended to issue home return permits to pan-democrats.

He did not see it as problematic for opposition legislators to join the trip even if some are in danger of losing their seats as the government seeks to have them disqualified over improper oath-taking.

“According to Legco’s legal adviser, since the court has yet to make any judgment unfavourable to them, they are still members of Legco,” Tsang said.

“If the mainland government extends the invitation without specifically saying they cannot participate, it is not unreasonable for the relevant members to take part.”

The invitation was extended to members of a development panel for the purpose of understanding the system that supplies Dongjiang water to Hong Kong. Their meals and accommodation for the two-day trip will be provided by the provincial Water Resources Department.