Hong Kongers vote for awakening
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2015.11.29

The Hong Kong District Council is, by its nature, only a consultative

body and is, therefore, not considered very important by China. For many

years the pro-Beijing camp has spent large sums of money trying to

control Hong Kong’s grassroots organizations, including neighborhood

associations and owners’ corporations. As a result, Hong Kong’s pan

-democracy movement had, for a long time, been on the back foot.

However, the “Umbrella movement” changed Hong Kong’s political

environment. The pan-democracy movement and their so-called

“Umbrella soldiers” chalked up a small victory in Monday’s district

elections, although it has yet to alter the pro-Beijing camp’s

stranglehold on 70 percent of the seats within the District Council.

Nevertheless, against the backdrop of numerous oppressive tactics and

the buying off of the public by Beijing and the Hong Kong Government,

the political awakening brought about by this electoral victory should not

be belittled. It is a victory for younger people, a victory for localism and

a victory for grassroots workers. It has also provided a direction for the

future of Hong Kong politics.

From the point of view of Hong Kong’s pan-democracy movement, the

bright spot for localist political parties was the significant victory gained

by the Neo Democrats. The party was formed in December 2010 after

splitting away from the Democratic Party, the leader of the pan-

democracy movement, due to dissatisfaction over concessions ceded to

Beijing’s central government liaison office by the party during

negotiations over the constitutional reform package.

Following the split, although the Neo Democrats had just over 20

members, it had deep roots within society in addition to a local


Two years later at the district elections, although the pan-democracy

movement as a whole lost badly and several big-wig councilors lost their

seats, the Neo Democrats, which nominated 10 candidates, including

Gary Fan (范國威), managed to get eight of them elected to the council.

In 2012, Fan was elected as a member of the Hong Kong Legislative


In September 2013, more than 300 Hong Kongers signed a joint petition

and placed an advertisement in both Hong Kong and Taiwanese

publications, with a particular emphasis on Taiwanese media.

The advertisement warned of the “severe Sinicization of Hong Kong,”

accused Chinese tourists and immigrants of wreaking havoc and urged

Taiwanese to “draw a lesson from Hong Kong” and demanded that the

chief executive step down.

Of the 27 pan-democracy movement members of the Hong Kong

Legislative Council, only two participated in the petition. One was Fan

and the other was Civic Party (公民黨) Legislator Claudia Mo (毛孟靜).

The two legislators have since become the standard bearers for localist

politics within the legislature.

Although they represent a moderate form of localist politics and do not

advocate breaking away from Beijing, a small number of individuals

from the left-wing, “greater China” faction of the pan-democracy

movement have nevertheless labeled Fan and Mo as “fascists” and “

prejudiced toward China.”

Although Mo is a member of the Civic Party, much of what she

advocates is similar to Fan. Before a vote at the Legislative Council on

Wednesday last week — the day after a soccer match between Hong

Kong and China at which Hong Kong supporters booed during the shared

Chinese national anthem — Mo raised a motion to urge the government

to respect Hong Kong’s history and culture, protect Hong Kong from

“mainlandization” and maintain Hong Kongers’ unique way of life,

unchanged for 50 years.

Together with Fan, Mo was fiercely attacked by the pro-Beijing camp,

which accused the two legislators of stirring up conflict between China

and Hong Kong. Mo did not stand in Monday’s district elections, but of

the 16 candidates fielded by the Neo Democrats, 15 were elected


However, not all localist parties fared well at the election. Candidates

fielded by the radical People Power and Civic Passion parties were all


Unfortunately, some members in both parties mistook their friends for

their enemies and — believing the Democratic Party to be their enemy

— advocated voting for the fringe Chinese Communist Party-supporting

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (民

建聯) rather than the Democratic Party.

Voters did not approve of such tactics. Leung Kwok-hung’s (梁國雄)

League of Social Democrats party (社民連) was also annihilated. The

radical “greater China” is still unable to leave behind the Baodiao —

defend the Diaoyutais (釣魚台) — movement.

It could be said that splitting from the Democratic Party over the

constitutional reform package in order to form a “new way of thinking

” has achieved precisely nothing.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Edward Jones


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