Hong Kong localism and independence

Radical Hong Kong group Civic Passion to become ‘moderate’ political party

Activist group, which has one lawmaker, will now refocus its attention on district work

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 9:01am

The radical group Civic Passion that was closely linked with the pro-independence movement is to quit social activism to turn itself into a “moderate” political party aiming to push district work.

A meeting will be held in February for its 300 members to formally endorse the change.

The new party is to be chaired by the group’s current leader and localist lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai, with Alvin Cheng Kam-mun as his deputy.

Cheng Chung-tai, a lawmaker for New Territories West, is a lecturer at Polytechnic University. Alvin Cheng was defeated in the Hong Kong Island constituency in the Legislative Council elections in September.

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Alvin Cheng said: “We did not come up with such a plan overnight. We have been planning our next move after the Legco elections.”

“We are not saying that we do not care about social issues or will not take part in social movements any more. We will be low-profile for a while and spare more time to build up our party.”

Cheng Chung-tai said he would focus more on education and cultural issues in the legislature.

“We will also start developing our district work to serve the community,” he said.

Civic Passion was founded by activist Wong Yeung-tat in 2012. It holds strong “localist” views and adopts a “militant” style of protest, opposing the involvement of the Beijing government in Hong Kong affairs. It has also called for the downfall of the Communist Party.

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The group has been partly financed by its sister group, Passion Times, an online news site.

With Civic Passion becoming a party, Passion Times will be hived off to be run as an independent online media organisation.

Wong, who quit Civic Passion after his defeat in the Legco elections, denied there had been a split.

“There is no question of any internal power struggle or rift among members of Civic Passion,” Wong said. “The move is to make the roles of the two bodies clearer. In the past, I headed Civic Passion and I also managed Passion Times, so some people got confused that we were a two-in-one group. That is not very good for the development of the group.”

Wong said he would not play any role in the future party.

Cheng Chung-tai faces the possibility of being deprived of his Legco seat.

Pro-Beijing legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun initiated a censure motion against him in November after Cheng turned several Chinese and Hong Kong flags upside down on the desks of pro-Beijing members during a council meeting in October.

According to Legco rules, the chamber must set up an inquiry to look into the lawmaker in question after a censure motion is tabled. After the probe is concluded, the lawmaker will be disqualified if a motion is approved by a two-thirds majority.

The Legco House Committee is expected to discuss the setting up of the inquiry on Friday.