Hong Kong localism and independence

Edward Leung quits localist group Hong Kong Indigenous ahead of riot trial

A Facebook statement by the party states that their spokesman wants to spend more time with family

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 6:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 4:35pm

Edward Leung Tin-kei, once a key figure in Hong Kong’s localist movement, quit the radical group Hong Kong Indigenous on Monday, one month before the start of an 80-day trial over rioting charges.

In a statement on Facebook, Hong Kong Indigenous announced that Leung, their spokesman, had resigned as he wanted to spend more time with his family before appearing in court.

Leung is among eight defendants – including Hong Kong Indigenous members Ray Wong Toi-yeung and Li Tung-sing – who face various riot and assault charges in connection with the Mong Kok violence on the night of February 8 last year.

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A crackdown on illegal street hawkers at the start of the Lunar New Year had escalated into clashes between police and protesters, with the unrest lasting into the next morning.

The trial is set to begin on January 18. If found guilty of rioting, the defendants each face a maximum jail sentence of 10 years. An arrest warrant for Wong and Li was issued as they had violated bail terms.

Referring to Leung’s resignation, the Facebook statement for Hong Kong Indigenous read: “Although we feel it is a pity, we respect Leung’s decision.”

It also paid tribute to Leung as the flag-bearer for the group’s ideals: “On behalf of Hong Kong Indigenous, Leung ran for the 2016 Legislative Council New Territories East by-election and proudly won 66,524 votes, successfully bringing the ideas of localism to the mainstream political stage in Hong Kong.”

The 26-year-old undergraduate from the University of Hong Kong joined Hong Kong Indigenous, which was cofounded by Ray Wong in January 2015.

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In the 2016 by-election held just weeks after the Mong Kok riot, the independence advocate took about 15.4 per cent of valid votes in a major step for localism in the city, although he lost to Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu.

Leung was later barred from running in the Legco elections in September last year, after the Electoral Affairs Commission required all candidates to sign an additional “confirmation form” declaring their acceptance of Hong Kong as an inalienable part of China.

Although Leung had signed the form, the officer was unconvinced that he had genuinely changed his previous stance on independence.