A group of students who identify as “localists” have been elected to run the student union in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). When asked about what their “bottom line” is, the newly-elected leader of the student union stated that they would not veto any method of resistance so long as it was effective and supported by students.

The win marked a change from the usual “leftist” student leadership in the school in previous years. Chow Shue-fung, president of incoming localist cabinet Spark, said that the election was a battle between the traditional left-wing ideology and the ideas of localism. He also said that the victory was not just a result of his cabinet’s efforts; rather, it was a triumph of the rise of localism.

Promotional material of incoming student union at CUHK. Photo: Facebook via sparkcuhk.

Chow also said that the voting results showed that localism had become an unstoppable force amongst students. He believed that even if Spark was not elected, CUHK would also become gradually “localised”, and that it was the general trend amongst students.

The localist camp is tied with various movements related to the expansion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, for example advocating for city-state status or outright independence. Last week, new University of Hong Kong (HKU) student union president Althea Suen associated localism with “seeing Hong Kong as their ‘home’, and wanting to prioritise the interests of Hongkongers and protect the city’s core values.”

For the first time in 19 years, there was more than one cabinet running for student union in CUHK. Spark obtained 2,343 votes – meaning around 60 percent of the total – beating its competition, Illuminant, by around 800 votes.

The voting turnout, however, was only around 23 percent, similar to previous years. Chow said that this was because the incumbent student union faced a manpower shortage problem, leading to long queues at polling stations which put students off, Ming Pao reported. Chow also said that the voting turnout went up following the Mong Kok unrest which broke out over the government’s clearing of street hawkers earlier this month.

Chow Shue-fung. Photo: Stand News.

A member of Chow’s cabinet was arrested in connection with the Mong Kok unrest earlier this month. Chow said that he respected that member’s decision and was confident that his performance in student union tasks would not be affected by his legal troubles.

See More: New HKU Student Union President supports Hong Kong independence

In an earlier interview, Chow had said that they would “fight valiantly with force”. When asked whether there was any bottom line with regards to the use of force, Chow said that the cabinet would not veto any method so long as it was effective and was not opposed to by CUHK students.

However, like HKU’s Althea Suen, Chow said that the student union was not a political party and that they would have to take into considerations the students’ interests, RTHK reported. He also said that the traditional peaceful methods of protest, such as singing and marching, had been proven to be ineffective.

Reforms proposed by Spark included introducing fast food chains such as McDonald’s into the campus and holding the first-ever e-Sports competitions at the university.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.