22 March 2019
The Undergrad magazine printed "Self-determination for Hong Kong" (left) and "Hong Kong democratic independence" (right) on the cover of previous editions. Photos: Internet
The Undergrad magazine printed "Self-determination for Hong Kong" (left) and "Hong Kong democratic independence" (right) on the cover of previous editions. Photos: Internet

Leung opens Pandora’s box on independence

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying brought up the question of Hong Kong’s independence recently, offering Hongkongers an opportunity to ponder this serious subject.

Is the idea of the city fighting for its independence really that far-fetched?

There’s no doubt that talk of independence remains a taboo subject for local mainstream media, but the rise of on-line media has provided a free platform for such discussion.

While Leung and his pawns are forcing people in an intimidating manner to take sides on independence, I would really like to ask, does being “pro-independence” include theoretical and moral support?

If the answer is “yes”, then I must confess that I also support Hong Kong’s independence — just as I support, in that sense, the independence of Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

I voiced my support for their independence more than 10 years ago, and my opinion remains unchanged to this day.

After all, is it illegal to support Hong Kong’s independence? If not, then please give me a reason why I shouldn’t.

As I recall, during an interview I gave to a weekly magazine back in 2002, when the debate about Article 23 was in full swing, I said clearly that once the national security legislation was passed, I would continue to write more articles on the legitimacy of the independence of Taiwan and Tibet.

Nowadays, together with the new issues of independence for Hong Kong and Xinjiang, I think it would be a lot of fun to explore these subjects thoroughly from a supporter’s perspective.

Of course, the separation of powers in our society has gradually degenerated into the cooperation of powers, and the checks and balances among the three branches are already on the line.

So, does giving theoretical and moral support for independence without taking any real action constitute the criminal act of inciting unrest?

If yes, then I should say and write more about this subject, even if no newspapers dare to publish my views, because nowadays the power of the internet allows people like me to get their ideas across to the general public in almost a split second, and on-line media can often be far more influential than newspapers and television.

Politicians, especially pan-democratic politicians, are willing to fight for civil rights only when they are sure it is absolutely safe to do so.

A man of great wisdom and courage would never behave like that.

Hong Kong’s misery today is in fact the result of a joint scam between China and Britain back in 1984.

Like many of my fellow citizens in the past, I used to support the handover of Hong Kong to China, believing we would enjoy more democracy and a high degree of autonomy after 1997.

And until Beijing went back on its promise and deprived Hong Kong of its right of democratic development with its “831” resolution last year, the majority of the Hong Kong public remained highly patient, pragmatic and gentle in counting on the central government to deliver its promise.

Never in a single piece of my writing in the past 30 years did I ever reject my identity as a Chinese, nor did I ever show any support for the independence of Hong Kong during that period.

However, the Umbrella movement changed everything, and it is time for me to step forward to change my opinions and correct the mistakes I made in the last three decades.

In fact, if the people of Hong Kong had known that the Chinese Communist Party would break its promise, they would probably have brought up the handover for discussion at the international level before 1997 and sought independence.

It seems the Communist Party still has a grudge against the people of Hong Kong over their successful resistance to the enactment of national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law back in 2003, and it has never given up on its attempt to resurrect the law.

In the past few years, official mouthpieces of the party have continued to magnify the rhetoric and actions of some pro-independence groups in Hong Kong — which constitute only a very tiny portion of the local population — so as to create a justification for bringing in the Article 23 legislation.

The valiance and courage our youth demonstrated during the Occupy movement certainly strengthened the desire of leaders in Beijing to reintroduce the national security law to Hong Kong.

As far as Leung is concerned, his incompetence in running Hong Kong was no doubt the underlying cause of the Occupy movement.

Now that the mass resistance movement in Hong Kong has quieted down, at least for the time being, it seems logical to him to suddenly open up a second front by lambasting a front-page story in a university campus journal.

He thinks by inciting a new wave of disharmony in society, he can keep the game alive and avoid dismissal from his position by Beijing.

I don’t think the pan-democrats will have the guts to speak their mind about sensitive topics like the independence of Hong Kong — in fact, they might have to speak up against it in order to please the moderate majority of voters — but cybercitizens don’t have to worry about that.

Now that Leung has opened Pandora’s box by awakening the people of Hong Kong, especially the younger generation, to the thought of gaining independence, the consequences are unpredictable, and the position of Hongkongers on this issue might greatly surprise Beijing.

Thanks to the publicity given by Leung in his policy address, that special issue of the Undergrad, which was almost unknown to the public, has suddenly become a sensation.

And from now on, the people of Hong Kong should talk more often about independence.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 20.

Translation by Alan Lee

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By drawing attention to an academic discussion of autonomy by the Undergrad magazine, Leung Chun-ying has opened up a can of worms. Photo: Facebook

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