Hong Kong is in its “darkest era” since the handover in 1997, pro-democracy Democratic Party lawmaker Emily Lau said on a Commercial Radio programme on Monday morning.

Lau is retiring as a lawmaker after 25 years in the Legislative Council and was invited onto the show to reflect upon her political career.

Emily Lau. File Photo: Stand News.

She said that the China Liaison Office’s image was getting “worse and worse” and that she recalled telling China’s No.3 official Zhang Dejiang as well as director of the Liaison Office Zhang Xiaoming in May that Hong Kong was “in the darkest era since the handover, because society is severely divided.”

“The reason for division is because of the policies of Beijing and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying,” she said.

She also said that the Liaison Office was interfering in elections, and that “they interfered with the Legislative Council. Even how we vote is their business. What we vote on is their business. Voting or not voting for a certain person as president is also their business. They also interfere with the media… receiving phone calls which tell them not to report [or] write on things.”

“One Country, Two Systems is a firewall to help us resist mainland rule. Now that Lee Bo was kidnapped, it’s like someone has driven a big truck and broke through the wall.” Lee was one of the missing booksellers from Causeway Bay Books who disappeared at the end of last year, only to reappear in the mainland months later.

China Liaison Office. Photo: HKFP.

She said that going to the Liaison Office in 2010 to talk with Chinese representatives was not a black spot on her career. She said that “she agrees with communicating with the mainland, but operationally it could be done better.”

Division within the legislature

Lau said that the pan-democrats in the legislature once drew up a list of demands which they agreed upon and asked through Jasper Tsang, the Legislative Council president, if the pro-establishment side could agree to work on anything on the list. Lau said that the list fell through because “from the point of view of Beijing, from the government’s point of view, from the pro-establishment point of view, they do not want to see us score points” because many elections were coming up.

Voting at the Legislative Council. File photo: StandNews.

Lau said that the outcome was “selfish.” “What points [are we getting?] If there are points we all get it. Actually Hong Kong is the one getting the points. But they are like that. Because I don’t want you to score points. Because Leung said ‘Vote them out! Shout at them!’ so because of this I am not cooperating with you even on livelihood issues.”

Lau recalled her protest in 1996 against the election of the Chief Executive prior to the handover. She said that it was civil resistance and was not planned beforehand. Rather, they found an opening not blocked by barriers, and decided to stand or lie down when numerous police came.

Emily Lau was a journalist for 15 years prior to her career as a lawmaker.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.