Localist Edward Leung has resigned as spokesperson of Hong Kong Indigenous and left the party in light of his upcoming trial.
Hong Kong Indigenous made the announcement in a Facebook post in the early hours of Monday. The statement said that Leung resigned as he will be facing lengthy court proceedings next year and hopes to spend his remaining days with his loved ones. The trial will commence next month.
The localist party said that it tried to persuade him to stay but was unsuccessful, and added that it respected his decision. It thanked Leung for his contributions and expressed hope that they will fight for Hong Kong’s future together again.
It also mentioned that Leung strived for recognition of a Hong Kong identity, winning 66,524 votes in the New Territories East by-elections last year and successfully bringing localism into mainstream politics in Hong Kong.
Leung was barred from running in the Legislative Council elections last September, despite having told the returning officer that he no longer supported Hong Kong independence. Youngspiration’s Baggio Leung was billed as his “substitute candidate,” but he was disqualified over his oath-taking after being elected.
Leung is facing charges over his involvement on the frontlines of the Mong Kok protests which broke out in February 2016, triggered by authorities’ efforts to clear street hawkers. Leung is being tried in the Court of First Instance and could face up to ten years in prison if found guilty of rioting.
Another key figure of Hong Kong Indigenous, Ray Wong, is also set to be tried next month for charges of rioting, inciting rioting, and inciting unlawful assembly. An arrest warrant was issued after he breached his bail conditions, having previously received approval to attend an event in Germany last month. According to local media, he failed to report to the Tai Po police station on November 20 and did not surrender his travel documents on November 22.
The first rioting convictions for the Mong Kok protests saw three others handed three-year jail terms in March, and the District Court sentenced a 32-year-old to four years and nine months in jail for rioting and arson in April. In August, two others were sentenced to three years in prison.