‘One-country’ declaration was ill-conceived but useful

Allowing the Legco candidacies of localists who refused to sign the declaration that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China shows that officials probably realise that screening out candidates will open a whole new battlefront.

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 12:55am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 12:55am

So, it’s official. You can agitate for Hong Kong’s independence and still run in September’s elections for the legislature.

The latest news is that one-time secessionist Edward Leung Tin-kei has taken a U-turn and signed a candidacy declaration acknowledging the city is an inalienable part of China.

But surely the real story is not whether he is lying about his political stance or has suddenly seen the light. It’s really about three other radical localists who have stuck to their guns on fighting for independence and refused to sign the one-country declaration. Yet, all three – Kenny Wong Chun-kit and Yau Wai-ching, both of Youngspiration, and Kowloon East Community’s Chan Chak-to – have been cleared to run in September.

So you can say the government’s exercise in forcing potential Legco candidates to declare their position on “one country” has been ill-conceived and misguided. But it has not turned out to be political censorship. Officials on both sides of the border probably realise screening out candidates this way will open a whole new battlefront and possibly create a political crisis.

Hong Kong localist gives in to election rule while others stick to their guns and are cleared to run

But at least now we know who the real secessionists are and who will say anything just to get elected.

As much as I find independence for Hong Kong an absurd and dangerous proposition, I have a newfound respect for those three. They stick to their political belief, however misguided, and refuse to compromise. Not so their former localist colleague Leung.

He has now declared, in his own words, “a resounding no” to the question as to whether he supports independence for Hong Kong.

Maybe I am too hasty and cynical. It’s possible Leung has finally realised the absurdity and futility of trying to separate Hong Kong from the rest of the country. But, if that’s the case, hasn’t he just nullified his whole raison d’être as a Legco candidate? Why is he even standing for election when he has nothing to offer voters?

It seems clear he will say anything to get into Legco. He has said so himself: “I will do whatever I can to be elected. I must stand for election… and be a legislator.”

The funny thing is, he could have expounded extreme localism and still be cleared to run in September. And no one would have questioned his integrity.