Several key figures of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, including former protest leader Nathan Law, won seats in Hong Kong’s legislature in elections earlier this month. At The Guardian, Cantonese pop singer Denise Ho spoke to Tom Phillips about her views on the movement, her own transformation from artist to activist as a result of the protests, and the price that she has paid for her activism. Her politics leapt to greater prominence in June, when French cosmetics company Lancôme cancelled a promotional concert in response to criticism of her in Chinese state and social media. Lancôme’s retail stores in Hong Kong were subsequently forced to shut down amid protests.
Denise Ho’s struggle against the Communist party of China began at 5.58pm on a Sunday afternoon.
It was as the Hong Kong Cantopop queen watched aghast as live television images showed police fire the first of 87 canisters of teargas into a sea of pro-democracy demonstrators, in a botched bid to quell their protest.
[…] As the second birthday of the umbrella movement nears, Ho says she feels frustrated at how many continue to call it a failure. She blames that on an obsession she believes Hong Kong’s education system has with quantifiable results.
“People are trained to think this way, that if we do something that doesn’t give us an immediate result then that means we have failed … [But] that’s not how it happens anywhere in the world, especially when you are facing such a big machine that is the Chinese Communist party.”
In fact, Ho describes the three-month-long protests as a historic awakening for the semi-autonomous city’s youth, the first step on an uncertain but essential quest for democracy. [Source]
As a consequence of her activism, Ho’s music has been boycotted in mainland China, where much of her income comes from. As CDT reported last week, a number of music streaming platforms in China, including iTunes’ local version, appear to have filtered or deleted her songs.
Meanwhile, concerns remain about irregularities in the recent elections. Following allegations of intimidation, the city’s Liberal Party will be submitting a motion to investigate threats against its candidate Ken Chow Wing-kan. Chow says he was forced to withdraw his candidacy by officials from mainland China. Ellie Ng at Hong Kong Free Press reports:
Dominic Lee Tsz-king of the Liberal Party said during RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday that his party’s four incoming lawmakers will be tabling a motion to look into the allegations by invoking the Legislative Council (Power and Privilege) Ordinance. The law gives legislators investigative powers to keep the government in check.
Chow, who ran as a Liberal Party candidate, suspended his campaigns in late-August citing threats from secretive agents acting on behalf of Beijing.
Chow’s party colleague James Tien Pei-chun later said that the China Liaison Office had asked Tien to dissuade Chow from running in order to help Chow’s rival Junius Ho Kwan-yiu win a seat. Ho, representing the pro-Beijing DAB party, eventually won – albeit with the fewest votes among the nine winners in the New Territories West constituency.
The Liberal Party said it had filed a report with the Independent Commission Against Corruption. [Source]
Meanwhile, an investigative report by FactWire has found large discrepancies between the number of ballot papers and documented voter turnout in several polling stations used in the September election.
FactWire found two more polling stations in the same situation as those in Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O and Sham Tseng, where ballot papers were found outnumbering the voter turnout on election day by candidates representatives. Polling staff in these stations only counted the ballot papers for the geographical constituency within the station, and did not collect or count ballot papers from small polling stations.
The total number of ballot papers was found to have exceeded the voter turnout by 103 and 100 ballot papers at CCC Kei Wai Primary School (Ma Wan) (K1301) and Wan Tau Tong Neighbourhood Community Centre (P1101) respectively.
Along with an excess of 257 ballot papers at Sheung Tak Community Hall (Q2401), 278 at Hong Kong Teachers Association Lee Heng Kwei Secondary School (P1001) and 93 at Sham Tseng Catholic Primary School (K1001), the 5 polling stations had a total of 831 excess ballot papers. [Source]
In a separate development, Tom Grundy at HKFP reports that fellow Umbrella Movement activist Alex Chow, who was convicted of unlawful assembly for his role in the protests, has been granted a U.K. visa to study at the London Shool of Economics beginning this month. Unexpected delays had sparked fears that the U.K. would reject his application because of his conviction.
Elsewhere, over one hundred Hong Kong residents attended a candlelight vigil on Saturday to protest a government crackdown in the Chinese village of Wukan, where demonstrations have been ongoing since June after officials arrested a former protest leader who led the villagers to victory five years ago in a case against land seizure and government corruption.