AP Interview: HK lawmaker says Flames fight needs rethink

HONG KONG — After Wu Chi-wai, chairman of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy party, decided to serve a protracted-term from the town’s legislature, he didn’t anticipate resign two weeks afterward.

All of 15 lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp have tendered their resignations to protest a Beijing settlement in early November which caused the disqualifications of four of the colleagues.

The resignations came in a fraught period for Hong Kong, as Beijing tightens control within the semi-autonomous city. Activists say that China is clamping down on independence that differentiates Hong Kong from the mainland.

For Wu, quitting was a final resort. He explained that staying would not have changed matters, as the pro-Beijing authorities were determined to push through policies which the pro-democracy camp wouldn’t have been able to discontinue. Pro-democracy fans need to rethink the way to keep their struggle that so much has changed, he said.

“I kept my promise, I struggled to the finish,” he told The Associated Press in an interview, adding he expects people who voted for him might not assume they had done so in vain.

Wu, famous for his feisty character, frequently delivered impassioned speeches in defense of democracy.

Democracy fans must continue to keep their determination to realize their objectives, even though it takes decades,” he explained. He conceded that he does not yet understand the route ahead, but seemed a hopeful note.

“I am becoming a completely different ball game,” he explained. “It opens into a fresh imaginative region to envision the long run because previously, I had been stuck at a… border that left me sleepy.”

For Wu, the struggle for democracy was a long and hard one, akin to a political career that saw both election beats and wins.

He cut his teeth as a legislative assistant, working for then-lawmaker Conrad Lam, that had been a part of pro-democracy celebration United Democrats of Hong Kong.

In the ensuing years, Wu served on district and municipal councils before being chosen to the citywide legislature in 2012. Since 2016, Wu has led the Democratic Party — Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy political celebration.

The mass resignations came soon after the launch of an unprecedented one-fifth expansion of the four-year legislative term. This followed a postponement of legislative election, therefore, with police citing public safety problems on account of this coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of the pro-democracy legislators criticized the move as unconstitutional but originally decided to stay in the legislature. Then came the decision to disqualify a few of these, which Wu explained as abrupt, but not surprising.

“(With) the most recent choice, the central authorities only informs everybody on earth that…’at Hong Kong, we’re in complete control, all is under control,'” he explained. “So, we must rethink the best way to resist later on.”

Wu said the pro-democracy camp might run into future elections, as a way to prolong the decision for democracy, but he pointed out they might not have the ability to serve their entire provisions, citing the current disqualifications of his four colleagues.

“History repeats at a bicycle,” said Wu, pointing to the struggle for democracy from the Soviet Union years past and the protests at Tiananmen Square.

“The key today is the way to maintain our decision in the coming time since it’s easy for individuals to give up if they fail,” he explained. “We might want to wait around for 20 decades, and a few folks can discover that discouraging. But… when we believe in the worth of democracy and liberty, we want people to struggle for this.”