Date
22 October 2019
Hong Kong's upcoming district council election has assumed added significance in the wake of the extradition bill crisis. Photo: Bloomberg
Hong Kong's upcoming district council election has assumed added significance in the wake of the extradition bill crisis. Photo: Bloomberg

The future lies in online political mobilization

As the political turmoil created by the extradition bill continues, media focus is now beginning to shift toward the November District Council election.

Parties across the political spectrum are aggressively eyeing the District Council election for two reasons.

One, there is the fact that DC seats present a lot of opportunities for the parties, in terms putting a lot of political and economic resources at their feet if they manage to win.

And now, there is the additional factor of the potential fallout of the extradition bill crisis, with the issue likely to figure prominently during the campaign.

That said, I feel compelled to point out here that community politics isn’t confined to the District Council. Nor is community politics confined to issues only of cross-border tensions.

As long as one has sufficient political imagination, there is a vast and untapped piece of space for the development of community politics outside the DCs, and the sky’s the limit.

One key element that will determine the way forward for community politics outside the DC arena is the future development of online political mobilization.

On one hand, online mobilization can transcend geographical barriers and propel an entire anti-extradition bill movement.

Yet on the other, online mobilization can also allow community members to bypass conventional community leaders or political parties in achieving their goals, thereby making “direct democracy” and “direct actions” possible.

Before the outbreak of the anti-extradition bill movement, there was a lot of skepticism about a “leaderless” form of social mobilization model.

And even almost two months into the movement, there are still a lot of uncertainties over the sustainability of this new kind of social mobilization model.

Nevertheless, I believe there is at least one thing for certain here: once online political mobilization gets integrated with community politics, and begins to gain a foothold in the community, it will have profound and far-reaching implications for the political culture in Hong Kong going forward.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 29

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Member of the Shadow Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, a non-governmental organization