Occupy Central

Hong Kong independence not feasible ... for now, says new pro-democracy group Demosisto

Group set to field candidates in two constituencies in the Legislative Council polls in September, but is set to run against the likes of Youngspiration

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2016, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 10:17am

Demosisto, a new party launched on Sunday by student activists who co-led the Occupy sit-ins in 2014, has pledged to advocate self-determination for Hong Kong and plans to field two lists of candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council polls.

The new political party, chaired by former Hong Kong Federation of Students leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, said social movements should not be divided by ethnicity and that it would be insensible to ignore the China factor – in contrast to the stance of other emerging localist groups seeking independence.

Watch: New party founded by former Occupy student leaders to seek self-determination for Hong Kong


“We don’t see ourselves as localists,” Law told a press conference on Sunday night, adding he did not see independence as a feasible way out in the short term. “There might be some discrepancies between our camp and theirs.”

Law might run in Hong Kong Island alongside film director and party colleague Shu Kei, while Oscar Lai Man-lok, ex-spokesperson of the now-suspended Scholarism group, is eyeing a seat in Kowloon East.

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In its manifesto, the party stated it would hold a referendum in 10 years to let Hongkongers decide their own fate beyond 2047, when the principle of “one country, two systems” expires, and would adopt non-violent protest tactics.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, former convenor of Scholarism who is now the new group’s secretary, stopped short of backing independence, but stressed it should be one of the options listed in the plebiscite.

The university student also said Demosisto would spend considerable time in lobbying international organisations on what he called the city’s right to self-determination.

The party, which has yet to apply for a bank account for fundraising, can only receive donations through a new personal account under the name of deputy secretary Agnes Chow Ting. Lawyers and accountants will scrutinise the process. Wong had earlier accused HSBC of exerting political censorship by denying their application.

The group is set to face an uphill battle in the September elections as it will go head-to-head in at least two constituencies with other post-Occupy groups.

The founding ceremony for Demosisto came as a coalition of six post-Occupy groups – led by Youngspiration – pledged to field four lists of candidates in all geographical constituencies except New Territories East, where Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous is tipped to run after he won 16 per cent of the vote in the February by-election there.

Ruling out coordination with Demosisto to avoid direct clashes, Youngspiration convenor Baggio Leung Chung-hang said the two groups had differences on a number of issues, including when to hold a referendum on self-determination.

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The plebiscite should be held in 2021, said Leung, in contrast to the date of 2026 proposed by Wong.

“I don’t think Hong Kong should have 10 years [to wait]. We are fighting against time,” Leung said.

The electoral alliance – comprising Youngspiration, Kowloon East Community, Tin Shui Wai New Force, Cheung Sha Wan Community Establishment Power, Tsz Wan Shan Constructive Power and Tuen Mun Community– will attempt to raise HK$3 million to cover electoral expenses through crowdfunding.

Leung, however, said the alliance might not seek close cooperation with the Hong Kong National Party, the group formed last month which wants independence, for fear of affecting the referendum’s neutrality.

“We do not want to give the public an impression that we put forward a referendum because we back a particular stance,” said Leung. “It might not be a good thing.”