A revolution is coming to Hong Kong’s legislature, led by idealistic new lawmakers
Andrew Fung says localist forces will introduce left-wing debate to the Legislative Council and thereby upset the established philosophy and formulation of public policymaking
Government officials not only face four years of even more filibusters, polarisation and chaos in the newly elected Legislative Council, they will also be confronted with challenges from some of the new lawmakers who will advocate different values and raise idealistic demands to upset the established public policy philosophy and formulation mechanism.
The former distinction between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic parties was defined by their divergent views and positions on “one country, two systems” and governance. On economic and social issues, there are variances between the pro-business parties and those claiming to fight for the interests of the working class and poor. But these differences are mostly a matter of degree, and may be bridged by compromise. The localist forces, however, will bring left-wing ideology and discourse into legislative debates on a great variety of issues.
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Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who won over 84,000 votes in New Territories West, has for years challenged vested interests over land rights. The Land Justice League, which he co-founded, aims to: let city and village life run in parallel; return village and country land to farming; eradicate real-estate tyranny; end collusion between government, indigenous villagers and developers; and, institute a democratic land planning system. Chu was also one of the initiators of the Community Citizen Charter in July 2015. It advocates district self-determination, including setting up a citizens’ assembly in all 18 districts and sharing economic resources.
Edward Yiu Chung-yim, elected in the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, follows similar lines. He wants a new town-development model with villagers participating in planning and design and the government assisting in infrastructure development.
Lau Siu-lai, who won a seat in Kowloon West, advocates hawkers’ rights, the setting up of market towns, cooperatives to enhance community economic development, and redeveloping agriculture to feed the local population.
Shiu Ka-chun, elected in the social welfare functional constituency, co-founded the Reclaiming Social Work Movement, which seeks professional autonomy and changes in the social welfare system. Shiu has vowed to bring peaceful civil disobedience into the legislature.
Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the co-founder of Demosisto with Joshua Wong Chi-fung, won more than 50,000 votes in Hong Kong Island. He shares similar leftist localist ideals, though he may focus more on working for self-determination to bring about a referendum in 10 years to let the people of Hong Kong decide their own fate beyond 2047.
These new lawmakers adopt a bottom-up approach of participatory democracy in establishing and strengthening Hongkongers’ identity at the district and functional constituency levels. They represent more progressive forces upsetting the establishment.
Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang (New Territories East) and Yau Wai-ching (Kowloon West) from the localist group Youngspiration will push for self-determination and even support independence. They claim they will focus on district work and building up the Hong Kong identity.
The young pan-democratic lawmakers of the Democratic and other parties will probably be drawn towards the left, not only to win votes from the young generation, but also because they are likely to share the values of the emerging new civil society following the “umbrella movement”.
There is a looming “revolution” by the incoming non-establishment lawmakers, who will be supported by relatively new NGOs forming a stronger civil society. Eddie Chu has already openly challenged the traditional vested interests in the New Territories and the government’s public policies on urban planning, land use and housing.
Andrew Fung is chief executive officer at the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute