Beijing has introduced the idea of ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’, officially making our election a selection. The changes reduce the proportion of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council(LegCo) from half to less than a quarter. Of the 90 seats in the LegCo, 40 will be filled by people selected by a pro-Beijing Election Committee. It is official that only those pledging allegiance to and vetted by Beijing will be allowed to run in elections.
One must get over some hurdles to run for office. One must first be nominated by at least two Election Committee members in each of the five sectors, including at least two representatives of the National People’s Congress, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or national organizations and sectors controlled by Beijing. The individual will then be vetted by the National Security Branch of the Police. The National Security Committee, headed by the Chief Executive and advised by the director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, will judge candidates’ eligibility. Afterwards, the National Security Committee, advised by the director of the Liaison Office, will determine if one meets the statutory requirements of upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the HKSAR. Last but not least, the individual will be confirmed by a candidate qualification review committee headed by principal officials of the SAR as a qualified candidate.
In short, Beijing now has the ability to control who will be in office in the legislature. None of the decisions made with regard to vetting candidates can be appealed or subjected to judicial review or legal remedies. If you are ultimately qualified for standing for the LegCo, the chances are that you will be arrested, detained, and jailed like the 47 who participated in the primary in the summer of 2020.
Absurd is how it can be called a ‘reform’. Our system is now more backward than that of the late colonial era.
Some might find it hard to accept, but if we recall the government disqualifying candidates and 6 elected legislators in 2016, the ‘reform’ might come less as a surprise as the electoral system was already destroyed back then, and it was already certified as dead by August 2020.
Electoral politics has ceased being the ultimate goal of political participation since 2016. The legislature was one of the major tools of the Movement in 2019, but not the goal of the movement—the movement did not serve the District Council Election nor the primary in July 2020, it was the District Council Election and the primary that served the cause of the movement as a means.
If we think about why the movement broke out, it is precisely because electoral politics failed to carry Hongkonger’s will to resist, making the latter spill over, and triggering off the outbreak of the movement. We had tried to take part in the system in the past and attempted to make meaningful changes, but in vain. Unjust legislations could not be defeated, unjustified budgets could not be stopped - the system failed to meet the demands of the people of Hong Kong throughout the years, therefore we resorted to new methods.
This ‘reform’ is flogging a dead horse, which is not a ‘new trick’ done by Beijing. It is indeed shocking and upsetting to witness, but we should not feel entirely defeated and be in despair.
As part of the resistance, it is our obligations to believe change is possible and to facilitate the possibility of change. Hong Kong and Hongkongers are not bound to suffer from oppression, our agency is in our procession that we are capable of change, however little the change is. That being said, I wish you would have faith in your own and others’ agency, would not decide against yourselves that it is the end, and would be generous enough to lend a helping hand to those that are around you.
(Glacier Kwong, born and raised in Hong Kong, became a digital rights and political activist at the age of 15. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Law and working on the course for Hong Kong in Germany. Her work has been published on Washington Post, TIME, etc.)
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