Demosisto activist Agnes Chow has announced her intention to take part in the Legislative Council by-elections in the Hong Kong Island constituency – the same seat that fellow party member Nathan Law occupied prior to his disqualification.

Four seats are up for grabs in the Legislative Council by-elections, which are scheduled for March 11.

The scheduled by-elections will involve three direct elections in the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West, and New Territories East constituencies through a first-past-the-post system, plus one in the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, in which only members of a professional sector can vote.

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Agnes Chow. Photo: 周庭 Agnes Chow Ting via Facebook.

The by-election will fill the seats of former lawmakers Nathan Law and Edward Yiu, who did not appeal their disqualifications, and Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who failed to have their appeal heard at Hong Kong’s highest court. The four were disqualified over their oathtaking.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening, Chow said that the imprisonment of her companions – activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Ivan Lam – has made her engage in self-reflection. “In the past I’ve always been protected, and now, it’s my turn to protect these friends and the spirit they’ve shown through their sacrifice.”

Scholarism background

Chow has been an activist since 2012, when she joined the now-defunct Scholarism in fighting against the national education proposal, which the group said would lead to “brainwashing” in schools. She was also at the frontlines of the 2014 Occupy movement before stepping down as spokesperson for Scholarism, citing exhaustion.

Chow said that on July 14, the day four lawmakers were disqualified by the court, she was sitting in Law’s office watching the news, and was heartbroken at the ruling. “Law’s performance in the legislature had impressed others, and demonstrated that young people are capable of politics. His work often drew the admiration of the public and even electorates who identify as ‘moderate’,” she said.

“Why did the government have to utterly destroy the voice of the next generation in the legislature, engage in self-castration and throw hundreds of thousands of votes into the bin?”

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Agnes Chow. Photo: 香港眾志 Demosistō via Facebook.

Chow said that, in the face of a cruel regime, she has no option of backing down in fear. Rather, she must repay the contributions of her comrades as well as society’s expectations of Demosisto with courage, she wrote.

“Although the world is dark, we can make light. I will actively consider taking part in the Hong Kong island by-elections, moving forward against the incoming waves,” she added.

Chow told Ming Pao that in order to run for election, she would be giving up her British citizenship. “I’m originally a British citizen – I feel that compared to other people facing imprisonment and bankruptcy, this is not a big sacrifice.”

Demosisto also announced that Tiffany Yuen has been elected as the party’s Vice Chairperson, while members William Liu and Chan Kok-hin were elected to the Standing Committee.

Neither Nathan Law nor Joshua Wong could run because the jail sentences handed down to them in August over their participation in the Civic Square protests exceeded three months. Chow celebrated her 21st birthday on Sunday, making her eligible to run. If Chow succeeds in her bid, she will be the youngest lawmaker ever to be elected in Hong Kong.

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.