Here is the point that many people don’t get; although he seems like a nice guy with a great political career ahead of him, Nathan Law is not the epitome of radicalism in Hong Kong, and I very much doubt even he would claim such a mantle either. So, it’s more than unpalatable and lazy when political commentators try to whitewash huge swathes of radical voters as infantile and naive just because they’re not walking the same path in LegCo as Nathan.

Nathan Law taking oath. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Many Hong Kongers, who have been battered, bruised or beaten on the front lines of protests are quite clear on who and how they want to be represented in the new LegCo and this was demonstrated succinctly during the oath-taking debacle.

Democracy, even the half-baked one we have in Hong Kong, is supposed to be about representing your constituents and both Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai ching did exactly this when they shredded the LegCo oaths and insulted the Communist Party and the notion of China by calling it Chee-na. These new legislators were not given a mandate to go to LegCo and continue reproducing the failed practices of yesteryear. They were not expected to ‘grow up’ once the prospect of a large pay-check was in their grasp.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, one of the three whose oaths were rejected. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

They were voted in to shake things up, highlight the contradictions and show that Hong Kong is ungovernable in its present form. Drastic political changes are now needed, it is no longer business as usual. The last 19 years have proven that politician’s careers have not been premised upon resisting Beijing’s encroachment. Instead it has been about protecting a biased and predatory system that ultimately eats away at the core values of Hong Kong. A system where the Communist Party always gets what it wants and the elected officials offer up a token but ineffective opposition.

You might argue that, well, bastardising the oath changes nothing, but in fact you are wrong. “Oath-Gate” changes everything. From day one, the writing was on the wall for the government that many Hong Kong citizens have a new international narrative to define themselves politically. One that starts with the bold statement that “Hong Kong is Not China” and ends with Hong Kongers running Hong Kong independently without interference from the corrupt Communist Party.

Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung. Photo: Faceboook.

You may not believe in this narrative or even doubt it is possible, but it was not your point of view that was plastered all over the global media last week, it was theirs. Yau and Leung were the ones that created the media storm that propelled the ideas of their constituents into the international arena while the detractors stamped their feet like small children in disgust, erstwhile trying to tenuously conflate the all but unheard of term Chee-na with the word Nigger.

So, you need to ask yourself, who are the stupid and naive ones in this debacle? Without Yau and Leung, the first day of LegCo would have been a non-event. Instead, it became a global news story and the international debut of the term, Hong Kong is Not China. It was a PR event par-excellence and political theatre that many voted politicians rarely live up to. Or to risk their personal careers in order to promote the exact message of their constituents.

The opposition camp questions the LegCo secretary. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Most certainly, both Yau and Leung will fall into line and take their oaths in the same vein as the others have done if given a second chance, but this takes nothing away from their excellent manipulation of the event in the first instance. This is high-octane, high-stakes politics to which Yau and Leung clearly won by promoting their message way beyond what could have been reasonably expected if they’d played nice like everyone else. By using such contentious terms they chose to confront the religion of Chinese ultra-nationalism head-on and they brought into stark reality the Communist Party’s worst nightmare, a LegCo being used as a vehicle for Hong Kong independence. They represented their constituents perfectly. No one who voted for them is complaining or feeling like their vote was wasted.

Now the government is throwing everything it has to stop the Terrible Two from taking up office. A prospect that plays right into the hands of the Youngspiration and HK Indigenous, as it would set up the mouth watering prospect of two bi-elections in New Territories East and Kowloon West, both hotbeds of political dissent, premised entirely on Hong Kong Independence. Seems the kids aren’t as naive and as stupid as many myopic commentators would have you believe!

Richard Scotford

Richard is a freelance writer and long term resident of Hong Kong. He has a Master's Degree in Chinese Studies from CUHK and describes himself as a noisy muser on all things China. He has travelled extensively in Western China and once owned a trekking lodge high on the Tibetan border. He has a raw style of Opinion Journalism, with special interests in the South China Seas and deciphering Hong Kong's Localist/Independence groups.