18 July 2019
Alex Chow said spending time in Pik Uk Prison allowed him to reflect on the democratic movement. Photo: HKEJ
Alex Chow said spending time in Pik Uk Prison allowed him to reflect on the democratic movement. Photo: HKEJ

Alex Chow calls on democrats to unite and prepare for polls

Democracy activist Alex Chow Yong-kang says the “one country, two systems” principle is losing its meaning in Hong Kong, citing recent developments such as China’s decision to impose a national anthem law on the territory by inserting it into the city’s mini-constitution.

Out on bail after spending 80 days in Pik Uk Prison, Chow told a radio interview that he has reflected a lot about the democratic movement’s decline during his time behind bars, and believes that attitudes are crucial to overcoming the barriers.

Chow and fellow activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung were jailed in August following their participation in an illegal protest that signaled the start of the Occupy Movement in 2014. They were granted bail after the Court of Final Appeal decided to hear their case on Tuesday.

Chow said that after the 79-day protests, the pan-democrats failed to come up with a consensus on “democracy”, which further polarized opinions and fueled distrust within their ranks.

He believes all the people involved in the pro-democracy movement should think about how they should come together to face this critical decision while preparing for the Legislative Council by-elections next year.

Regarding the national anthem law, Chow said authorities should address the core issue of why people are disrespecting the anthem, such as the wage gap, dissatisfaction with Chinese policies and other social issues.

He said the co-location arrangement for the Express Rail Link means that Chinese laws will be valid within Hong Kong borders, and this shows that the “one country, two systems” policy is slowly being nullified.

As to the chief executive election, Chow believes the decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Aug. 31, 2014 poses the greatest barrier, but he urged everyone to consider some interim proposals, such as reforming the nominating committees and changing company votes to individual votes.

He also believes there is room for the democratic camp to be more autonomous, including sending people to work in District Councils and trying other innovative strategies. 

On the day he was released on bail, Chow gave special thanks to Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung for the “wondrous journey” of spending time in jail.

He said after the interview that it was unavoidable to be sarcastic and cynical, but stressed that there was some truth to his statement — he learned the actual conditions inside the prison.

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