A group of Hongkongers in self-imposed exile have announced plans to hold a public consultation on setting up a shadow parliament, “as a new platform for Hongkongers to express their will.”

hong kong shadow parliament introduction video
Photo: Screenshot from HKshadowparliament.com.

Former British consulate staffer Simon Cheng, who is currently in the UK, appeared as one of the founders of the group during an online press conference last Thursday. The shadow parliament does not strive to become an exiled government or mimic governing functions, but will serve as a democratic platform to elect those who can legitimately represent voices of Hongkongers.

“This will help international lobbying efforts,” Cheng said, “Having a democratic process will improve legitimacy.”

A three-month online consultation has been launched for the proposal. Cheng said it aims to collect opinions on whether establishing a shadow parliament would be feasible, “and if so, how Hongkongers would envision it, and what they hope it would do.”

Based on the consultation findings, a secretariat would draw up an interim constitution.

During a trip to the mainland Cheng was detained last year for 15 days, accused of soliciting prostitutes. After his release and subsequent flight to the UK, Cheng described the torture he said he was subjected to while in custody.

simon cheng hk shadow parliament
Simon Cheng. Photo: Screenshot from press conference via TMHK.

The group has five core organisers, Cheng said. It has already registered in the US and is planning to do the same in the UK.

A 17-page consultation paper and a survey form on the group’s website invites public input on questions such as the definition of a Hongkonger, the composition of any parliament, the structure of the electoral system, a draft interim constitution and amendment procedures. The group will then study and consolidate the findings to set up an electoral system.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.