Since the Democratic camp in Hong Kong landed a landslide victory in the District Elections on 24 November 2019, Beijing has responded with an even more confrontational course than before. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has caved into every single move that the Chinese leadership has taken to infringe upon Hong Kong’s autonomy, its rule of law and its respect for civic rights.
Recently, Carrie Lam reshuffled her cabinet, stuffing it with hard-liners. The Hong Kong police just recently announced that not in a single case, there has been a judicial prosecution of rampant police brutality committed against democratic demonstrators last year. On the other hand, almost 600 people are being prosecuted for participation in the protest movement last year. Democratic leaders are being persecuted, which made international headlines when 15 of the most senior and most respective representatives of the Democratic camp were arrested. Beijing seems to have decided to substitute Hong Kong’s self-governance step by step with direct interference from the mainland, even if that clearly violates Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Under these difficult circumstances and under the additional strain of the Covid-19 crisis, Hong Kong is preparing for elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) in September. While public demonstrations and political activities are presently largely impossible, a powerful, Beijing-directed initiative of establishment figures, led by two former Chief Executives, has formed an alliance that immediately demonstrated its purpose by bad-mouthing and denouncing the Democratic movement. These establishment forces as well as Beijing are fully aware that they are running a very high risk of losing the LegCo elections, just as they lost the District elections. Democrats might, for the first time, attain a majority in LegCo, effectively crippling existing plans of using LegCo to further narrow Hong Kong’s freedoms.
In this situation, we have invited two prominent Hong Kong democrats to discuss the developments in their city as they see it. Martin Lee, an 81-year old barrister, was deeply involved in formulating Hong Kong’s Basic Law and has been dubbed the “Father of Hong Kong Democracy”. He was also a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1985 to 1997 and from 1998 to 2008. He was one of the 15 democratic leaders recently arrested. Alan Leong is also a barrister, he was a candidate for the Chief Executive’s Office in 2007, LegCo member from 2004 until 2016, and is Chairman of the Civic party that gained 32 from 452 seats (which is 20 more since the last elections) in the District elections. They both visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2018.
Best regards and stay safe