Young anti-China ac­tivists vic­to­ri­ous

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A NEW gen­er­a­tion of young Hong Kong politi­cians ad­vo­cat­ing a break from Bei­jing be­came law­mak­ers for the first time yes­ter­day in the big­gest poll since mass pro-democ­racy ral­lies in 2014.

A record 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple voted in the leg­isla­tive elec­tion as fears grow Bei­jing is tight­en­ing its grip on the semi-au­ton­o­mous city.

It was the high­est turnout since Hong Kong was re­turned to China by Britain in 1997 and comes as ten­sions have reached un­prece­dented highs over Bei­jing in­ter­fer­ence.

Hong Kong’s free­doms were pro­tected for 50 years in the han­dover agree­ment, but many be­lieve they are dis­ap­pear­ing.

Young ac­tivists par­tic­u­larly have lost faith in the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” deal un­der which the city is gov­erned, which grants it much greater lib­er­ties than the main­land.

That dis­il­lu­sion, ex­ac­er­bated by the fail­ure of the 2014 ral­lies to win re­form, has spawned a slew of new par­ties call­ing for more au­ton­omy.

As re­sults rolled in, four of the new breed of can­di­dates were con­firmed to have won seats, with a fifth also on course for vic­tory.

Among them was Nathan Law, 23, leader of the 2014 “Um­brella Move­ment” ral­lies, who came sec­ond in his con­stituency.

Hong Kong is split into five con­stituen­cies, each with sev­eral seats in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (LegCo), Hong Kong’s law­mak­ing body.

Mr Law and his new party De­mo­sisto are call­ing for a ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence, em­pha­sis­ing Hong Kongers’ right to choose whether they want to split from China.

“I think Hong Kongers re­ally wanted change,” Mr Law said, cel­e­brat­ing his win.

With the pro-democ­racy camp di­vided be­tween those who back the idea of possible in­de­pen­dence and those who are more wary of the once taboo no­tion, Mr Law said he would seek unity.

“We have to be united to fight against the [Chi­nese] Com­mu­nist Party,” he told AFP.

Mr Law has pre­vi­ously dis­tanced him­self from the more rad­i­cal “lo­cal­ist” move­ment, which in­cludes ac­tivists who are stri­dently pro-in­de­pen­dence and have pre­vi­ously ad­vo­cated vi­o­lence.

Young cam­paign­ers have been gal­vanised by a num­ber of in­ci­dents which have pointed to in­creased Bei­jing in­ter­fer­ence.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Willy Lam said vot­ers had cho­sen the new guard to “send a strong mes­sage to Bei­jing”.

Bei­jing and Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly railed against the

con­cept of in­de­pen­dence as un­con­sti­tu­tional. The loud­est pro-in­de­pen­dence voices were banned by the govern­ment from stand­ing in the vote, a move which trig­gered wide­spread anger.

How­ever, some lo­cal­ists who were al­lowed to run called for in­de­pen­dence on the cam­paign trail.

If the democrats were to lose four seats, they would for­feit the one-third vot­ing bloc they need to veto bills, stack­ing the al­ready skewed leg­is­la­ture even more in favour of Bei­jing.

Re­sults so far show they are likely to hold on to that veto power, al­though some vet­eran demo­crat cam­paign­ers were voted out to make way for the new gen­er­a­tion.

How­ever, the over­all make-up of the LegCo re­mains weighted to­ward Bei­jing un­der a sys­tem that makes it al­most im­pos­si­ble for the democ­racy camp to take a ma­jor­ity.

Thirty of the coun­cil’s 70 seats are elected by spe­cial in­ter­est groups rep­re­sent­ing a range of busi­nesses and so­cial sec­tors. Those seats go pre­dom­i­nantly to pro-Bei­jing can­di­dates.

Of 3.7 mil­lion vot­ers, 58 per­cent came out to vote, com­pared with 53pc in 2012. –

Civic Pas­sion’s Cheng Chung-tai (cen­tre-l elec­tion, at the cen­tral count­ing sta­tion

Photo: AFP

left) is con­grat­u­lated by a sup­porter fol­low­ing his win in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil in Hong Kong yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.