THERE IS LITTLE positive to say about the mass resignation by opposition lawmakers from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo).
This followed the city’s government sacking four Legco members using the powers newly given to it by the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing to directly dismiss lawmakers whom it deems to have promoted the city’s independence or foreign interference in its affairs.
If the government had hoped to replace the more outspoken elements of the opposition with moderates, it would have been rapidly disabused of the idea by the resignations of all of the remaining 15 opposition lawmakers, who make up a large minority, in protest.
This further diminishes the already shrunken popular standing of LegCo, whose elections due in September were postponed for a year, nominally because of the Covid-19 pandemic but more likely because the opposition was likely to win a majority in the wake of the introduction of the new National Security Law.
All four of the dismissed legislators — Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party and Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild — had already been disqualified from running in the next election. This was the purported basis on which they could not continue to serve in the extended LegCo session.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam reportedly said that there would be no by-elections to fill the vacancies as the postponed elections were only nine months away.
The chances of popular protest will increase, but any such expression of discontent will be repressed by legal and police action.