Hong Kong Politics & Protest

‘I failed’: Localist Edward Leung promises to sit out by-election

Localist politician Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous has said that he will not stand as a candidate or assist in campaigning in a by-election that may be held in the coming months to replace two recently disqualified politicians of the Youngspiration party.

Leung, who gave advice to the Youngspiration duo after they were elected into the legislature, apologised on a Now TV programme on Saturday for the oath fallout. He also apologised to voters last Tuesday on an online radio show.

Edward Leung Tin-kei

Edward Leung Tin-kei. Photo: Edward Leung, via Facebook.

‘Price to be paid’

“I think I failed to live up to the expectations of many of my voters,” Leung said. “It is time for reflection.”

After losing in the New Territories East by-election in February, Leung campaigned for Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang in the Legislative Council election in September.

Edward Leung said that although he served as a consultant for the duo after the election, he was not informed about their decision to stage controversial protests during the legislature’s swearing-in session in October.

“This is the price I need to pay. Since I didn’t stay at the legislature to work with them and instead gave them autonomy over their work as lawmakers, I need to bear the responsibility for the consequences of their actions.”

Despite heavy criticism from the public, the Youngspiration duo have said on multiple occasions that they would not apologise as they had not done wrong. Leung said the two ousted lawmakers had “already done a lot” over the past few months.

baggio-yau-wai-ching

Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching. File photo: HKFP

“I believe not many people at the time of the oath-taking – or the day after – foresaw the possibility that Beijing might interpret the Basic Law in response,” he said.

The Chinese government handed down in early November a binding interpretation of the Basic Law. The High Court subsequently held that Beijing’s ruling applies to the oath row as well as any disputes that arose from July 1, 1997 – the day Hong Kong was handed over to China by the UK. Some legal professionals have criticised Beijing’s move as well as the court’s lack of reasoning.

‘Coward’

Critics have been questioning Leung’s absence since October’s swearing-in session. Leung said: “If we were to resist Beijing’s interpretation, we would need to get people to take to the streets. But if I asked people to come out, I would’t be able to lead the crowd on the frontlines. Then, that would go against what I had been doing in the past.”

Leung is facing two charges of rioting and inciting rioting for his participation in February’s Mong Kong unrest, dubbed the “Fishball Revolution.” He is now on bail pending a hearing in January 2018.

Ray Wong facing the police at the Mong Kok protest.

Ray Wong facing the police at the Mong Kok protest. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“I chose to keep silent. If I am to give an explanation, it is because I am a coward. I don’t want to be detained immediately,” he said.

“I am very sorry. I couldn’t meet the expectations other people had on me. I didn’t stay on the front line to resist Beijing’s ruling. I had chosen myself this time.”

Leung said last week that he will be going to Harvard University in January to research the localist movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan. He said he will study the role of independence movements in resistance against authoritarian regimes, and the effectiveness of radicalism in challenging these regimes.

The trial of Leung, his party colleague Ray Wong Toi-yeung and eight others is scheduled to begin on January 15, 2018. The trial is expected to take 80 days, with the prosecution calling 115 witnesses.

'I failed': Localist Edward Leung promises to sit out by-election