The ranks of pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong has thinned further after another three of the city’s district councillors either resigned or said they intended to quit.

On Monday, Ben Chung, who was a member of the Sai Kung District Council, announced his decision to quit on social media from prison where he is being held on remand after he was charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law for organising and participating in a primary election for the since-postponed Legislative Council election.

Ben Chung. File photo: Ben Chung, via Facebook.

Chung was one of the 47 democrats charged with the offence has been remanded in custody since February.

“I feel extremely sorry for not being able to finish this term,” said Chung. “Ever since I have been charged, [I] have received a lot of letters and greetings from people from the neighbourhood.

“I now have a job in the prison, [I am] responsible for making envelopes. There is the government’s slogan ‘serving the people’ printed on the bottom left corner of the envelopes, and these words reminded me of my original intention over the years.

“I hereby promise you all there, as long as there is an opportunity and hope to ‘serve the people,’ I will make it through with persistence,” wrote Chung.

‘Powerless’

Tai Po district councillor Nick Lam also announced his resignation on social media, citing health reasons on Tuesday.

Nick Lam. File photo: Nick Lam, via Facebook.

Lam added that he went through “a lot of ups and downs” this year, and that he felt “powerless” and became “slowly disheartened” when watching other democrats being oppressed.

“Those capable have no power, while power lies with the incompetent, bad money driving out good is the reflection of today’s Hong Kong,” wrote Lam.

At least 19 pro-democracy district councillors have quit for various reasons ahead of the passing of an oath-taking requirement bill, which will get its second reading in the legislative council on Wednesday.

Nine of the district councillors resigned because they were in custody facing national security law charges.

The pro-democracy camp won 388 out of 479 seats in the 2019 District Council elections in a major blow to the pro-Beijing camp and currently control 17 of the 18 councils. China has since imposed electoral changes to eliminate the role which the councils previously played in helping choose the city’s leader.

‘Rampant oppression’

Meanwhile, Wong Tai Sin district councillor Carmen Lau also announced that she had resigned from the Civic Party, and would quit as a district councillor.

Carmen Lau. File photo: Carmen Lau, via Facebook.

Lau told HKFP that she planned to quit ahead of taking an oath. The 26-year-old also apologised in her post for “not being able to fulfil campaign promises, and finish the four-year term”.

“The oath-taking bill will be passed soon, oppressions and purges are more rampant, as a district councillor, there isn’t much that we can do,” wrote Lau. “[I] really don’t want to complete the unreasonable oath-taking requirement under this corrupt system, compromise in this decaying district council, and become a pawn of tyranny,” she said.

At least four district councillors have left the Civic Party before Lau.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.