A few weeks after making impressive waves by winning seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, two young politicians showed their disdain for the office they had fought so hard to win by peppering the oath of office with insults.
The two politicians are Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, of the upstart party Youngspiration. As with other pro-democracy activists, then swept to victory during elections in September. Many of their peers had threatened to mess around with the wording of their oaths. They were the only ones to follow suit.
In effect, they added a bunch of insults to China in their oaths.
China controls Hong Kong using an increasingly difficult to understand One Country Two Systems approach. The Hong Kong government, including the head of the Legislative Council (LegCo, as it is called here), now say that altering the wording of the oath means the two cannot take office.
Hong Kong has a certain degree of autonomy, including its own monetary system, taxation and courts. It has freedom of speech. It has a significant amount of wealth. It has a health system that is both autonomous and pretty good. It has its own borders (which people have to cross to get to China). It has a local police force and coast guard. It has a foreign policy and sits on a bunch of world bodies, often as an observer. It competes in the Olympics under its own flag. For all that, it does not have an army nor does it have self determination. It is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
It has a type of democracy, although the powers that be (mostly Beijing) ultimately approves who sits on government. Beijing also has final say on how the Basic Law (a mini constitution that rules Hong Kong) should be interpreted.
Many of the pro-democracy camp want more. They want more self-determination for Hong Kong. Some have floated the idea of independence, certainly they want a more effective full democracy.
This is what they want. Nobody seems to know how to go about getting that.
Already, there are many people working outside the system towards some or all of those goals (regardless of how right or wrong they might be).
Now suddenly, since September, there are more people also working within the system with actual mandates to participate in government.
And through childish swearing (as opposed to swearing in) these two have excluded themselves from government. Sure, throwing a bit of a tantrum might have felt good for a minute. And it will give them a few laughs for a years. Unfortunately, it will do little or nothing to further their cause.