By Tom Midgley
I voted for Youngspiration at the last election because I believe that hope for Hong Kong’s future lies with the young people of Hong Kong.
Two years ago, I was like most Hongkongers, just working hard to pay my rent each month, enjoying the unique culture and food of Hong Kong, with little interest in local politics. However, I was woken up and inspired by Joshua Wong and school children’s opposition to China propaganda within our schools and horrified by police using tear gas against them. Therefore I became actively involved in the Umbrella Revolution. At that time I had hopes that Beijing would respect the Sino-British agreement and allow us to elect the Chief Executive; perhaps some compromise on the composition of Legco could be reached with the abolishing of the functional constituents.
But with the local government and Beijing refusing to even talk to the Occupy protesters, I started to slowly realise that independence for Hong Kong is the only option left if we want to keep Hong Kong’s special culture and language and unique history – to not become just another city in China.
At the last election I thought: what is the point of voting for the traditional pro-democracy parties who spend their time filibustering, and never being able to achieve anything positive because of the ridiculously unfair composition of Legco. 59% of the popular vote, but no power, is not democracy by any definition. So I voted for Youngspiration.
I have heard some people blaming Youngspiration for the clampdown by Beijing. Have they forgotten the Hong Kong booksellers kidnapped and imprisoned in China, or the candidates that were already banned before the election? The attack on One Country, Two systems and Hongkongers’ freedoms and rights had begun long ago. It is Beijing to blame.
Youngspiration’s ideals and political manifesto are shared by a large and growing number of Hongkongers, as proved by the successful election campaign of Baggio Leung and Yau Wai -Ching. Their views should not be dismissed in ageist or sexist ways. Did we really want them to swear allegiance to China in their oaths without protest? The dictatorship in China deserves no respect for their human rights record and censorship of its population. They did the correct thing to insult China. Even if they had read the oath in the manner that Beijing wants, we now know that China would have banned them anyway for advocating independence within Legco.
The reality is that the independence movement has been steadily growing in Hong Kong since the refusal of Beijing to compromise with the Occupy protesters. By banning Youngspiration and threatening other democratically elected candidates who call for “self-determination” it will speed up the incentive for the majority of school students and young people to support independence for Hong Kong.
For people who say China is too powerful for Hong Kong to be able to achieve independence. I am encouraged to see that China is so scared of two young, relatively inexperienced Hongkongers that they were forced to change the Basic Law because of them. This shows their weakness which needs to be exploited. History shows that Communist dictatorships do not last forever. Hong Kong needs to prepare itself for that moment. Youngspiration require our continued support, as the fight now moves to outside of Legco.
A Hongkonger born in England, Tom Midgley runs a small cafe in Hong Kong where the community gathers for free expression and exchange. He is a passionate supporter of the alternative possibilities in our society.