Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Getting Used to the Localist Snub

The annual October 1 flag-raising ceremony at Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai
They haven't technically been sworn in yet, but the six newly-elected localist lawmakers have already decided they are not going to attend the October 1 National Day reception that mark the founding of the People's Republic of China.

It's the ritual flag raising ceremony, speeches and singing of the national anthem at Bauhinia Square next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Cheung Chung-tai says he won't be attending the festivities
The Hong Kong government was testing the waters to see how its working relationship with these localists would be like, but with them snubbing the invite, it seems like the next few years are going to be a tough slog.

Civic Passion's Cheng Chung-tai, who is also a Polytechnic University lecturer, told the media he would skip the event.

"[October 1] is just the national day of China and has little to do with Hong Kong," he said.

The two members of Youngspiration, Sixtus "Baggio" Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who once advocated independence, said the reception celebrated "the national day of a neighbouring country".

A similar reaction came from two others voted into functional constituencies, social welfare and architectural sectors, saying it was "a waste of time with nothing to celebrate".

Sixtus Leung says Oct 1 is a national day for another country
Nathan Law Kwun-chung of Demosisto doesn't plan to attend as a guest but as a protester.

However the seven lawmakers from the Democratic Party have decided to accept the invite, following an internal meeting today.

"We will attend and adopt our own means to reflect the public's opinions to the SAR government and other attendees," said Lam Cheuk-ting, but did not elaborate.

Leung Kwok-hung or "Long Hair" of the League of Social Democrats has yet to receive his invitation, though last year was the first time he was not invited. But seeing as the localists have decided not to attend, perhaps Leung is considered more moderate these days?

It's all relative, isn't it.

Nevertheless, the stand the localists are taking is refreshing. What does October 1 mean to people in Hong Kong anyway? Not much, if anything. While they do face the possibility of Beijing's ire for not giving it face, the six are making a statement that this is Hong Kong, and no, we don't think we're a part of China.

The ball's now in Beijing's court...

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