My Take

Independence party founders are both clowns and criminals – and their poison is spreading

A ‘Republic of Hong Kong’ is unrealistic, yet a way must be found to channel the idealism of young people into fighting for more viable political goals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 3:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 3:44pm

It’s just a matter of time. A new extreme localist group has been formed, calling itself the Hong Kong National Party. It repudiates the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, seeks to establish independence for “the Republic of Hong Kong” and will use any means, including inciting violence, to achieve its goal.

Co-founder and former Occupy Central activist Chan Ho-tin said his party would use “whatever effective means” available to push for independence, including fielding candidates in the Legislative Council elections in September and coordinating with other pro-independence localist groups.

“Staging marches or shouting slogans is obviously useless now. Regarding violence, we would support it if it is effective to make us heard,” Chan said.

Hong Kong National Party is born: will push for independence, will not recognise the Basic Law

I am no lawyer but it all sounds illegal. If you don’t recognise our constitution, how can you become a lawmaker? If you advocate violence, any number of local laws including the public order ordinance and the crimes ordinance will suffice to define a criminal offence.

But the question is, how should reasonable people respond to localist groups like this? Should they be treated like clowns or criminals?

They certainly deserve to be laughed off the stage. But as they say, it takes a village, that is, the whole community, to stop something like that.

Alas, too many people in Hong Kong nowadays are only too happy to make excuses for such inexcusable individuals, exploiting their misguided efforts to spite the government, Leung Chun-ying and Beijing.

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The latter are blamed for pushing people in Hong Kong towards extremism. I am not sure it’s really so simple.

But for argument’s sake, let’s say Beijing and the Hong Kong government are entirely to blame. Does it follow we should fold our arms, shake our heads and let the localists and their independence movement run berserk? It’s not in anyone’s interest to let such a movement take root in Hong Kong.

Since independence will never be a realistic option for Hong Kong, nothing good will come out of extreme localism. This is a poison that is spreading in our body politic. But unless we can figure out a way to channel the anger and idealism of young people into fighting for more viable political goals, localism will look appealing to many of them.