onsdag 18. november 2020

Loss of an opposition in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is a tragedy for the city

On the night Hong Kong returned to China, leading democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming stood on the balcony of the old Legislative Council building with fellow members of his party and vowed: “We shall return!”

His speech, to the cheering crowds below, followed the disbanding of the legislature by Beijing, in retaliation for the last governor Chris Patten’s electoral reforms. It was replaced by the provisional legislature, a body established by the central government’s Preparatory Committee and chosen by 400 people. The Democratic Party refused to join the body on principle.

For almost a year there were hardly any opposition voices in the city’s legislature. Now, 23 years after the handover, history is repeating itself. Four pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified by the government last week after a ruling by Beijing. The opposition camp’s remaining 15 legislators quit in protest. Legco has become an echo chamber. These developments have serious consequences for the city’s political system and rule of law. The four disqualified lawmakers were barred by election officials from standing in Legco polls scheduled for last September, mainly because they were deemed to have called for foreign governments to sanction Hong Kong.