Legislative Council elections 2016

‘A Hongkonger is someone willing to defend our values’: Baggio Leung on his mission to make nationalism mainstream

Youngspiration leader says Edward Leung will join his Legco team after election breakthrough

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 10:10am

Pushing the idea of Hong Kong nationalism into the mainstream will be the main aim of newly elected localist lawmaker Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang over the next four years, he has said, after his camp’s breakthrough in the Legislative Council elections.

The 30-year-old Youngspiration leader also revealed in an interview with the Post that Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei will be a member of his team in Legco and could take up the role of an envoy abroad.

Baggio Leung, whose 37,997 votes in New Territories East made him one of six localists to win a Legco seat this month, said building momentum for a nationalist movement was crucial to the city’s democratic development.

“Without a Hong Kong nation that’s separate [from China], even if we have a democratic system, it would not be truly democratic,” he said.

“And when we talk about self-determination, why should the seven million people in Hong Kong be the ones deciding [the city’s future] and not the 1.3 billion people on the mainland?

“Without the idea of a Hong Kong nation, this question cannot be answered convincingly.”

Leung said he saw the city’s residents as belonging to the one group and considered them distinct from mainland Chinese.

Despite some critics calling the idea of a Hong Kong nation xenophobic, Leung maintained the brand of nationalism he championed was “open”.

“It’s not based on blood ties, skin colour or the person’s background,” he said. “A Hongkonger is someone who is willing to defend our values and stand on our side when there are conflicts with others, such as Beijing.”

But for fear of being disqualified before taking his Legco oath, the localist was still reluctant to clarify his stance on Hong Kong independence.

While he campaigned on a platform of “self-determination for the Hong Kong nation” and avoided directly addressing the issue of separatism in the run-up to the election, he said it would become easier for him to spearhead discussion of the issue in the lawmaking chamber once his status as a Legislative Council member is confirmed next month.

“Behind the idea of Hong Kong independence, there are many questions yet to be addressed,” he said. “When these issues are unravelled, I believe the public’s support for the idea will increase.”

Leung’s road to the legislature was tumultuous.

He was parachuted into the New Territories East race at the last minute as a substitute for Edward Leung, who was barred from running over his pro-independence stance.

Now that their plan has come to fruition, Baggio Leung said the Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman, along with other members of the group, would form part of his team in Legco.

Specifically, Edward Leung could become an envoy in the near future, delivering talks and garnering support for the Hong Kong nationalist movement abroad.

“In many places, there are overseas Hongkongers and many were the elites in the city,” Baggio Leung said. “So getting their support would benefit [the nationalist movement].”

He stressed Youngspiration and Hong Kong Indigenous would make decisions together, and he brushed aside doubts over whether the partnership, which some commentators have described as “unprecedented”, would be sustainable.

Leung admitted they would need to learn how the legislature operates, given that neither one has experience in the chamber.

Aside from becoming familiar with Legco’s rule book, he said they had enlisted former legal sector legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee to guide them on how to draft bills.

Outside the legislature, Leung planned to propel his agenda into mainstream consciousness.

With the resources allocated to legislators, he said he hoped to hold activities to strengthen Hongkongers’ sense of identity through five district offices he intended to set up.

Planned events included a public screening of the Hong Kong national football team’s game against Singapore in October and tours to educate the public about the city’s history.

Leung said the localist camp had successfully moved localism into the mainstream. “The pan-democrats may not call themselves ‘localists’ but they have started to incorporate elements of localism into their politics,” he said. “Even some pro-establishment figures, like Christopher Chung Shu-kun, have talked about localism.

“Our next mission is to make all parties across the political spectrum respond to the idea of a Hong Kong nation,” he added.