25 June 2019
Denise Ho and Joshua Wong are being mentioned as potential candidates for the legislature. Whether they will take the plunge is anybody's guess. Photos: HKEJ, Reuters
Denise Ho and Joshua Wong are being mentioned as potential candidates for the legislature. Whether they will take the plunge is anybody's guess. Photos: HKEJ, Reuters

Why Legco needs new blood

If nothing else, the pro-democracy street protests will be remembered for the coming of age of a political minority — Hong Kong people between 18 and 25 years old.

After their showing in the protest movement, they’re being seen as an emerging force to reckon with.

The idea resonates with some of them including pop singer Denise Ho.

Ho, known to her fans as HoCC, hinted at a run for a Legislative Council seat in 2016, telling a radio phone-in program that many of her supporters have been encouraging her to go into politics.

Ho is a child of the student-driven street protests. She founded Hong Kong Shield to monitor police behavior toward protesters.

That credential alone might not qualify her for public office, except that it comes with a fuller understanding of street politics and official conduct, along with organizational skills learned from exposure to the protracted civil disobedience campaign.

Ho said she would consider standing for a geographical seat which is returned by one person one vote.

But she is in no rush to decide, preferring to “listen to the voices of the public” before she takes her next step.

Several celebrities including movie stars Anthony Wong, Chapman To and pop singer Anthony Wong, all of whom have been high-profile supporters of the democracy movement, are also emerging politicians.

And then there’s Joshua Wong, the 18-year-old anointed by the foreign media as the face of the Umbrella Movement.

None of them, however, has mentioned any political aspirations in so many words.

Fresh, young faces will inject new blood into Hong Kong politics which has had no real excitement since the first direct Legco election in 1991.

A “youth caucus” will spice up a two-dimensional political landscape which for years has been mainly a struggle between pro-Beijing forces and the democracy camp.

Such a third force will not change the system of governance — Legco will still be toothless under a chief executive-led government that takes its orders from Beijing — but it will bring any gains of the Umbrella Movement into the political mainstream.

It might succeed where senior politicians have failed in trying to abolish the egregiously unrepresentative functional constituencies.

Whether the young politicians can be an effective government fiscalizer is anybody’s guess.

But they had better be for their own good and for the sake of Hong Kong people who have been grappling with deep-seated social and economic issues, from public spending to housing, education and the environment.

These issues have galvanized social activists including the leaders of the student protests

On these matters, they speak with one voice.

But on political issues, they tend to diverge along ideological lines, with one group firmly coming down on the side of the establishment, the other on the side of pan-democrats.

This leaves little room for independent-minded politicians. Presumably, the likes of Ho and Wong would not want to be tied to such an arrangement.

Then again, that’s politics. If they decide to take the plunge, they have to start somewhere.

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EJ Insight writer

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