Following the swift disqualification of several localist candidates from running in the upcoming Legislative Council elections in Hong Kong, the largest pro-indepedence rally the city has ever seen was held in protest last Friday.
Facing directly towards the Central Government Offices in Tamar Square, supporters crowded around “Independence Park” to hear speeches made by prominent localists. Crowd numbers are heavily disputed, with the organizers putting the total at close to 10,000, while the police estimated a turnout of just 2,500.
Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman Edward Leung, banned from running despite meeting candidate eligibility on paper, delivered a rousing speech detailing his view of the situation.
For those without VPNs, here are some of the tastier bits…
What is politics? Some say that it’s an issue that involves every one of us. To me, allocation of power is the essence of politics… yet, what happened in these two weeks, is that the government extended their power beyond the law…The government… deprived the people of the right to vote, the right to stand for an election and the freedom of speech.
So this is a problem about the allocation of power. When we, a group of Hongkongers, try to resist, seeking a reform in the political system, or longing to achieve these words (HK Independence), we mean to seize the power and we must regain the power that we deserve.
The sovereignty of Hong Kong, our homeland, doesn’t belong to Xi Jinping, nor does it belong to the central government, the CCP, the Chinese government or the SAR government. Our society belongs to us Hongkongers. The sovereignty should always belong to the people, not to Beijing.
A government is set up because the people need an authority to allocate power and maintain social order. A government doesn’t rule the people. Instead, a government should be the servant of its people…
(Yet) a lot of Hongkongers have a fear of this government. Why? It’s because the government has military force, it has authority, it dominates public opinion and it relies on the laws which can be interpreted arbitrarily… When we threaten the government or act against its will, they will suppress us by violence.
You may wonder, so why do we protest against the regime with radical actions? When we’re confronted by the government, which is armed and is violent in nature, we can’t be benevolent or cowardly, nor can we appeal to morals. It’s a dictatorial government, an unreasonable regime — it’s exactly the nature of the PRC. There’s no point in appealing to morals.
What exactly is a revolution? A revolution is a fundamental change to the social structure and the distribution of power, a bottom up change… Please think about it: will you still ask China and the HK government to carry out a top-down reform? Will you still believe that they will offer us democracy and let us enjoy our freedom? Impossible. That is why I said revolution is a must.
Then when will we start a revolution? Actually, it has already started! Two years ago, the Umbrella Movement was renamed as the “Umbrella Revolution” by the pan-localist camp because we all knew that it was the beginning. Since that time, more and more Hongkongers start to understand that we can’t depend on others anymore…
When will the revolution be successful? I don’t mean to be discouraging but its an inconvenient truth that a revolution usually takes ages. It may seem impossible for a revolution to succeed in just a shot period of time; but it may be possible too. It sounds paradoxical and absurd, but it’s what a revolution is. We must keep holding on to our spirit, and we must try to influence more people. When we reach out and look back, we’ll know that all the efforts are worth paying.
Even though I’m banned from standing for the LegCo elections… it doesn’t matter [because] there’ll be someone else taking my place. You should never put all your faith in just one single person… I don’t know what else I can do, But i know that I can influence more people… We have to keep influencing the people and make them change their mind.
On His Dreams:
When I was in Form 6, I told a friend:”I want to become a parliamentarian in the future. What do you think?” And he said, “it sounds nice, you’re suitable for it and you’ll be successful someday, I’ll surely vote for you.”
It seems that it’s impossible to us now,but I once got very close to my dream. What happened in these six months when i was pursing my dream? A year ago, I was just a fai-ching [“junk-youngster”, a loser in society], a college student who… longed to graduate but had to defer my studies. A year ago I was just a nobody, hardly known to the general public.
…But… who could ever image that a year later, this fai-ching almost achieves his dream? No one could even image this. No one! I knew that if I don’t put my words into practice, I would be destined to fail. but if I keep upholding my dream, I may fail, I may be mocked, blamed, or oppressed, yet I’ll still be doing what I’ve been dreaming of. A man without dream is no different from a salted fish right? So I keep on doing what I think is right.Therefore, if you have a dream right now, please hold on to it, and someday we will achieve it.
I think many of you might have watched Batman, and one of its famous quote is that:” The night is darkest just before the dawn.” And I promise you, the dawn is coming.
Thousands in Hong Kong gather in largest ever pro-independence rally. pic.twitter.com/R2AG59Vt7X
— Alan Wong (@alanwongw) August 5, 2016
— Tony Cheung (@cycheung1127) August 5, 2016
The Hong Kong government has given a cautious response to the rally. Chief Executive CY Leung denied interfering in any of the decisions to ban localist candidates, stating that the disqualifications were decided by “the returning officer of the constituencies they are responsible for.” According to the SCMP, Leung stated that the officers are “using their powers in accordance with the relevant laws in Hong Kong” without political interference, hinting that some rejected candidates had already tried to challenge the ban through judicial reviews.
Pro-Beijing Newspaper Takungpao denounced the rally as a scheme to brainwash secondary school students into supporting the city’s independence movements. They urged school authorities to prevent pupils from conducting activities that would violate the principles of the Basic Law.
China Daily commentator David Wong supports the Electoral Commission’s decision to disqualify the localist candidates, citing that the declaration forms, which were a new requirement for candidates this year, “do nothing more than what they have been required to do in previous elections.” He echoed the Chief Executive’s statements that returning officers made their decisions based on the candidate’s adherence to legality, and that they are free to pursue judicial review.
Support for Hong Kong independence has become more apparent in particular segments of Hong Kong society. Reuters reported a few days ago that nearly one-sixth of the city’s population support Hong Kong independence. According to HKFP, the poll revealed that nearly 40% of pro-independence supporters are youths aged between 15 and 24.
However, recent political turmoil had led to greater anger in the city. SCMP reports that returning officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung (pictured in the middle), infamous for banning Edward Leung from running, received a “threatening letter with a razor blade enclosed” from a suspect studying at CUHK. Other forms of abuse have been conducted on social media by several netizens against returning officer Alan Lo Ying-ki for banning Chan Ho-tin.
By Arnie Yung
[Images from Facebook/ Litenews/ HK01 / Mingpao / Apple Daily]