Leading political figures from within government and from new parties presented their views at Hong Kong secession debate on 20 June 2016 at Island School. In partnership with the Harbour Times, Island School invited four speakers, to debate the motion:
“This house believes that the future of Hong Kong’s people is best secured through real self-determination”
Kenny Wong, member of Youngspiration, a pro self-determination party, open the debate by explaining what self-determination is (the right of nations to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status). He explained that “true external self-determination is the formation of the independent state.” He went on to say since British rule Hong Kong has not had self-determination and in the 90’s when the 50 year period of one country two systems was agreed the voice of the Hong Kong people was not heard. He argued that the Hong Kong culture and identity is different from China and, “independence should be an option.”
Regina Ip, member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong said, “I disagree that Hong Kong is culturally different, you can’t divorce our ethnicity from China.”
When talking about the practical issues of self-determination she made the point “[If] Hong Kong becomes an independent state, how do we defend [against] external domination?” she asked. “In reality, we need an army. We need to raise taxes.”
Following her opening address Cheng Chung-tai, leading member of Civic Passion and a teaching fellow at Polytechnic University said, “Why we call for separation, instead of succession, is that we have an assumption Hong Kong is being ‘re-colonised’ by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]. This is the straightforward and concrete assumption that I’m sure you would feel it is also the reality. The reality is determined by the way we live, our rule of law, our autonomy, our language, our culture and also our identities.”
He explained that not all people are protected equally under the rule of law citing the Causeway Bay book sellers.
Eunice Yung, barrister-at-law and speaking against the House motion pointed out, “Hong Kong is a trading and financial hub.” “Political separation from China would [cause] huge damage to Hong Kong.”
Following the opening statements from the speakers the audience asked questions on international security, economic stability and freedom of speech before giving their closing remarks.
Vice Principal Gareth Stevens said: “I am convinced that we have a responsibility as educators to encourage students to engage with local political issues. One can not be an active and contributing citizen without understanding core issues to do with political ideology. We will continue to develop this approach and to organize similar events whilst remaining non-partisan.”