Mong Kok riot

Hong Kong activist Edward Leung releases statement after being jailed for six years

After being handed a six-year jail term for his part in the 2016 Mong Kok riot, the face of the city’s independence movement spoke of his feelings in a post on Facebook

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 June, 2018, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2018, 9:30pm

Jailed Hong Kong pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei has spoken of his feelings about standing trial for the first time – along with his wishes for the city’s future – in a statement posted online hours after he was jailed for more than half a decade on Monday.

In the statement, that sheds light on what has been going through the young man’s mind, Leung, 27, pondered the significant role sidelined youngsters play in the city; why a democratic system would be pivotal; and why social campaigners should put aside their differences.

The former convenor of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous also dropped the biggest hint yet that he might one day return to the spotlight.

“If I could take this lesson away from what happened today, and continue to fight for our future generations, I believe my parents would be happy.” he said.

The statement, written before his sentencing hearing on Monday, was uploaded to his Facebook page hours after Leung was jailed at the High Court for six years for taking part in a riot in the popular district of Mong Kok on February 8 and 9, 2016.

We should be pursuing a democratic structure that can reflect the society’s opinions
Edward Leung

“Since the start of the trial, the time has rewound back to the first night of the Lunar New Year two years ago, where time has slowed, where time has frozen,” he wrote, referring to the night of the skirmish.

“[I] believe it will stay like this for a while,” Leung, who had been remanded in custody since late January, added.

He cast his memory back to a time before he found himself in the dock in January this year when he was taking part in research programmes overseas.

Leung said while he was abroad, he recalled reading news reports about young people wanting to move out of Hong Kong, and how those in power and with wealth told the unhappy and pessimistic youth to leave.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong wins appeal against jail term over protest in run-up to Occupy

“But only when we are rooted to this piece of land will there be a chance for a change,” he said.

He revealed in the statement on Monday that to prepare for his testimony, he “traced back his footsteps from past to present”, to look back at how his pursuit for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong had eventually landed him in the political fray.

On Monday, Leung no longer questioned his pro-independence sentiments. In an attempt to find common ground, instead, he said, he only wished people would understand how a political system, having failed to pay heed to public opinions, could lead to public uproar, and that how failed political reform could land the city in a political storm.

He said the wellness of the city mattered to everyone who lives in it. “We should be pursuing a democratic structure that can reflect the society’s opinions,” he said.

Once a staunch critic of the city’s pan-democratic camp, the activist however urged those who drive social movements to put aside their differences.

“Perhaps before we achieve democracy, we need to practice democracy, to acknowledge various differences, cherish those discrepancies, and turn it into an opportunity to amass more power,” he said.

“Only authoritarian regimes fail to embrace different voices,” he said.