Leung Kwok-hung

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The Honourable
Leung Kwok-hung
梁國雄
Longhair-2005-04-17 Enlarged.jpg
Leung in his iconic Che Guevara T-shirt in 2005.
Member of the Legislative Council
Assumed office
17 May 2010
Preceded by Himself
Constituency New Territories East
In office
1 October 2004 – 29 January 2010
Preceded by Andrew Wong
Succeeded by Himself
Chairman of the League of Social Democrats
In office
12 February 2012 – 21 February 2016
Preceded by Andrew To
Succeeded by Avery Ng
Personal details
Born (1956-03-27) 27 March 1956 (age 60)
Hong Kong
Nationality Hong Kong Chinese
Political party April Fifth Action (since 1991)
League of Social Democrats (since 2006)
Other political
affiliations
Revolutionary Marxist League (1975–91)
Residence Kai Yip Estate, Kowloon Bay
Alma mater Clementi Secondary School
Occupation Legislative Councillor
Website longhair.hk
Leung Kwok-hung
Traditional Chinese 梁國雄
Simplified Chinese 梁国雄

Leung Kwok-hung (Chinese: 梁國雄; born 27 March 1956), also known as "Long Hair", is a Hong Kong politician and social activist. He is currently the member of the Legislative Council, representing the New Territories East. Being a Trotskyist in his youth, he was the founding member of the Revolutionary Marxist League. He became a political icon with his long hair and Che Guevara T-shirt in the protests before he was elected to the Legislative Council in 2004. In 2006, he co-founded a social democratic party, League of Social Democrats (LSD) where he was the chairman from 2012 to 2016. In 2017, he announced his candidacy for Chief Executive.

Early life and social activism[edit]

Leung was born on 27 March 1956 in Hong Kong to an immigrant family from the Guangdong Province. Born in Shau Kei Wan, he later moved into Chai Wan Estate. He was raised in a single family after his father left home when Leung was 6 years old, while his mother was an amah in a British family to support the family and Leung had to live with relatives back in Shau Kei Wan who had seven children.[1]

Leung was educated at the Clementi Secondary School. Leung credits his political awakening to the Cultural Revolution and the 1967 Hong Kong riots, participating in the "Maoist student movement". He and his mother were members of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), the left-wing pro-communist labour union at the time. After the falls of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four which crushed the Maoist idealism, Leung reflected his political belief, and delved himself into Trotskyism under the influence of the social activist icons at that time such as Ng Chung-yin.

In 1975, he co-founded the Revolutionary Marxist League, a Trotskyist vanguard party, in which he became active in political actions. He was arrested multiple times, including in the protests of supporting the 1976 April Fifth Tiananmen Incident and Chinese democracy movement. His first prosecution was in 1979 when he protested for the Yau Ma Tei boat people. Later in the same year he was charged and jailed for a month for "unlawful assembly" for a protest at the Victoria Park.[1]

Members of the April Fifth Action in Victoria Park, Hong Kong in 2009 to commemorate the victims in the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

After his release, he worked as a construction worker from 1981 to 1986. In 1986, Leung worked for Kowloon Motor Bus as an overnight vehicle cleaner. Around 1988, he formed the April Fifth Action after the Revolutionary Marxist League was disbanded. The group is well known for its aggressive and civil disobedience-style actions to protest against the governments of China and Hong Kong during celebrations and visits of state leaders, often resulting in confrontations with the Hong Kong police. They usually carry a coffin as their trademark protest prop. Leung supported the Tiananmen protest of 1989 and has been member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.

He has been briefly jailed several times for offences such as shouting from Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo) public viewing gallery, burning the national flag of the People's Republic of China and forcibly breaking into an opposition political event. In 2000, he and Koo Sze-yiu were prosecuted for disrupting a LegCo meeting and were later jailed for 14 days, becoming the first dissents to be jailed after the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Before that he had been charged for 14 times, 11 of which were convicted.[2]

Legislative Council bids and founding of LSD[edit]

Leung first contested in the Legislative Council election in 2000, where he ran in the New Territories East. He received 18,235 votes, about six percent of the total vote share and was not elected. On 1 July 2003 the unpopular Tung Chee-hwa administration attracted more than 500,000 people marched in the streets. The further antagonism towards the government helped further boost the popularity of pro-democracy activists including Leung Kwok-hung. In the 2003 District Council election, Leung challenged the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) legislator Choy So-yuk's seat in the Kam Ping constituency which was seen as pro-Beijing traditional stronghold. He called out the DAB as the "loyalist party" and received 1,149, only 284 short to defeat Choy.

Leung ran again in the Legislative Council election in 2004 in New Territories East and succeeded in winning a seat in LegCo with 60,925 votes at the expense of the moderate Andrew Wong, former Legislative Council President,[3] He received over 200% increase in votes compared to the 18,235 votes in 2000.[4] His campaigns include universal suffrage, workers' rights and welfare for the less well off. His political agenda include introduction of a liveable minimum wage, comprehensive social security, collective bargaining and taxing speculative business. Although he expresses his fondness for Che Guevara and the ideals of revolutionary Marxism, Leung has not included a proletarian revolution agenda on his election platform and many of his ideas and proposals would be readily accepted by most mainstream social liberal and social democratic parties in other countries.

For the swearing-in ceremony of the Hong Kong Legislative Council on 6 October 2004, Leung's fellow members arrived in business attire. He, in contrast, wore a T-shirt with Tiananmen Square on the front and Che Guevara on the back. When he was called to come forward and take the oath, he raised his left fist, encircled with a black wristband, a memorial to those who died in the 1989 protests. He had planned to alter his oath of office, but a Hong Kong judge said such a step would make it impossible for him to serve. Instead, Leung added his own messages to the standard oath, demanding vindication for those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to one-party rule on the Mainland. He shouted at the ceremony: "Long live democracy! Long live the people!" He was then sworn in as a council member. Observers watched closely the reaction from the PRC government, as Leung's statements touched upon a politically sensitive issue that is considered taboo in official public settings. Leung's populist and unorthodox confrontational style contrasts with the usually restrained atmosphere of LegCo. Rita Fan, the then LegCo President, seemed more concerned by Leung's attire for LegCo meetings than any of his political opinions. One legislator commented that "LegCo has to get used to Leung, and he has to get used to LegCo."[5]

In 2005, Leung took part in the protests against the WTO Conference in Hong Kong and was injured during the demonstration.[citation needed] Leung was arrested along with 900 other demonstrators. As with almost all other persons rounded up on that day, Leung was released shortly after and was not prosecuted.

In 2006, Leung co-founded the social democratic party League of Social Democrats (LSD) with legislator Albert Chan and radical pro-democrat radio host Wong Yuk-man. In the 2008 Legislative Council election, Leung was re-elected in the New Territories East while Chan and Wong were also elected in New Territories West and Kowloon West respectively which made the LSD in the third largest pro-democracy party after Democratic Party and Civic Party, which took a more moderate and pro-middle class position as compared to the LSD.

Denied entry to Sichuan in 2008[edit]

Leung does not have a Home Return Permit since 1989, after the Tiananmen Massacre, having been denied one by the Chinese authorities, but he was able to visit the mainland China once in the company of his mother in about 2003.[1] He was also able to visit the mainland China in 2005, due to at that time all Hong Kong legislators were invited to visit Guangdong, including other pan-democrat legislators, some of them also do not have the permit since 1989.

On 4 July 2008 Leung was scheduled to visit areas in Sichuan damaged by the Sichuan earthquake as part of a 20-member delegation. Leung's travel permit application was rejected at the last minute on suspicions he would protest in China during the 3-day trip.[6] Sichuan officials claimed to have seen Internet reports saying Leung planned to do something not relevant to the purpose of the trip. Rita Fan confirmed those were the grounds of denial.[7] Leung responded saying: "It's so ironic. People said the Olympic Games will make China more open up. I think it's going backward."[7]

Five Constituencies Referendum[edit]

In 2010, Leung and four other pro-democrat legislators launched the "Five Constituencies Referendum" to press the government to implement universal suffrage of the Chief Executive and Legislative Council by resigning from each constituency and trigger a territory-wide by-election. Leung explained that his resignation in January was, "in keeping with [his] campaign promise... to fight for direct elections."[8] Although being elected in May with 108,927 votes, the campaign failed to draw high turnout rate due to the boycott by the pro-Beijing camp, . Leung accused the Democratic Party for not participating in the campaign and instead reached a controversial agreement with the Beijing government over the reform proposal.

In the 2011 District Council elections, LSD chairman Andrew To refused to field candidates against the Democrats and former chairman Wong Yuk-man and legislator Albert Chan quit the party with hundreds party members over the disagreement as well as the intra-party factional struggles. Leung, being the only legislator left in the party refused to follow Wong and Chan. Leung subsequently took over as party chairman after To resigned when he lost his seat in the District Council elections. Leung himself also ran in the election against DAB legislator Ip Kwok-him in his stronghold Kwun Lung but lost with a wide margin of 1,800 votes.

After the 2010 by-election, the government considered the resignations were abusive to the system and planned to plug the loophole. A Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012 was proposed to disqualify a resigned member of the Legislative Council from participating in a subsequent by-election. Leung participated in the filibustering against the bill with Albert Chan and Wong Yuk-man, submitting 1,306 amendments altogether, which began the radical democrats' filibustering practice against the government bills in the following years. On morning of 17 May 2012, LegCo President Jasper Tsang, adopted Article 92 of the Standing Order, which allows the president follow foreign parliament rules for unregulated behaviours to terminate the debate. In the end, all amendments were defeated and the Bill was passed on 1 June 2012.

Third term as Legislative Councillor[edit]

In the 2012 Legislative Council election, with 48,295 votes, among the highest votes in the constituency. In 2013, he and other radical pan-democrats started filibustering by moving a total of 710 amendments on the Budget Appropriation Bill debate, to press for a universal pension scheme and a HK$10,000 cash handout.[9] The government warned that the service would shut down if the budget bill do not pass. LegCo President Jasper Tsang ordered to end the filibuster on 13 May after 55 hours spent to debate 17 of the 148 amendments.[10] The Appropriation Bill was passed on 21 May 2013 with 684 amendments negatived.[11]

Leung opposed the government's constitutional package on the 2016/2017 Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections. After the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) set the restrictive framework on the Chief Executive candidates, the student activist groups organised a week-long student strike. On 26 September 2014 toward the end of the strike, 100 protesters led by student leader Joshua Wong rushed into the square of the government headquarters. The police clearance drew thousands of protesters at the scene. In the next morning, the Occupy Central with Peace and Love led by scholar Benny Tai announced their early launch of the planned occupy protests. Feeling being highjacked, some protesters began to leave the scene, while Leung Kwok-hung dropped to his knees in front of the protesters, asking them for staying in the scene. "If you want to achieve a goal in the long term – in this case, true democracy in Hong Kong – you need to unify all powers who are fighting for this goal and establish a platform to let them all participate,” he later told the press.[12] For his long term experiences in protests, he became one of the leaders in the 2014 Hong Kong protests and kept being seen in the scene, but he was criticised by some militant radicals for his non-violence doctrine.

In 2016 Legislative Council election Leung was once again re-elected with 35,595 votes. Leung came in ninth in the nine-seat constituency, with only 1,051 votes separating him from the unelected Christine Fong due to the infighting among the pan-democracy camp and surges of many localist candidates with more radical agenda.[13]

2017 Chief Executive bid[edit]

Leung Kwok-hung launched his Chief Executive bid in February 2017 through a "public nomination" mechanism conducted by post-Occupy group Citizens United in Action, in which he would seek to secure 37,790 votes from members of the public, one per cent of the city’s registered voters before he would canvass for the nominations from the Election Committee. He explained his decision was to urge the pro-democrat electors not to vote for any pro-establishment candidates who could not represent the pro-democracy camp at all even if they see them as "lesser evils", as some pro-democrats had inclined to support John Tsang, the relatively liberal pro-establishment candidate to prevent a hardliner Carrie Lam from winning. He also aimed to reflect the spirit of the 2014 Umbrella Movement and the voice of those low-income people. His bid was supported by four radical democrat legislators People Power's Raymond Chan, Demosisto's Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai and Eddie Chu, while the mainstream pro-democrats did not endorse Leung's action.[14]

Personal image and sartorial preference[edit]

Leung Kwok-hung speaking in a protest in 2003.

Leung is widely referred to by the sobriquet "Long Hair" (長毛), and press photographs show him with long locks as early as 1977.[1] Leung is reputed to have vowed not to cut his hair until the government of the People's Republic of China apologised for the Tiananmen Square massacre[15] although he has denied this on several occasions. Leung opposes Communist Party of China one-party rule and seeks transition to democracy. His long hair has become one of his visual icons and a political statement – the same name was applied to troops of the Taiping Rebellion against Imperial China. In 2014, his hair was forcibly cropped short when he was briefly imprisoned for criminal damage for his forced entry at a political event. In 2015, he commenced an application for Judicial Review before the High Court, challenging the Commissioner for Correctional Services' power to rule that male prisoners' hair be cut short while females are permitted to grow theirs to any length, on the ground of gender discrimination in breach of the HKSAR's constitution. In a preliminary hearing, his application was ruled to have realistic prospects and set down for a full hearing later in the year.

Leung is a smoker and can easily be spotted sporting his favoured Che Guevara T-shirt and smoking a cigarette on the pavement in Central.[16] He is a fan of the Homeless World Cup and has accompanied Hong Kong's team to the tournament for several years.[17]

He still lives in public housing, at the Kai Yip Estate in Kowloon Bay, which is often criticised by the pro-Beijing camp for abusing the public resources. He claims that since he join the Legislative Council, most of his salary give to his party and other NGOs.

He says he learned English by listening to the British Forces Broadcasting Service radio station.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e My life: Activist and politician 'Long Hair' on prison, being banned from China and his amah mother, South China Morning Post, 30 August 2015
  2. ^ "梁 國 雄 即 時 入 獄 14 天". Sing Tao Daily. 27 May 2000. 
  3. ^ Election results in 2004
  4. ^ Election result in 2000
  5. ^ "Long Hair and the Legislature in Hong Kong", Eleanor Randolph, The New York Times, 13 October 2004
  6. ^ Reuters, '"China bars radical HK democrat from Sichuan visit". Retrieved on 4 July 2008.
  7. ^ a b WTopnews. ""Hong Kong lawmaker barred from Sichuan quake zone"." Wtopnews. Retrieved on 4 July 2008.
  8. ^ "Hong Kong lawmakers quit in push for democracy". BBC. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "Filibustering continues over budget". RTHK. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Lai, Ying-kit (13 May 2013). "Legco president Jasper Tsang orders end to budget bill filibuster". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  11. ^ LegCo Reporter Council Meeting 2012-2013 Issue No. 28 (21 May 2013)
  12. ^ "Prominent Hong Kong activist says protesters need to unify, strategize". LA Times. 30 October 2014. 
  13. ^ http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news.php?id=79252
  14. ^ "'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung enters chief executive race, urging allies not to vote for 'lesser evils'". South China Morning Post. 8 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Pepper, Suzanne. Keeping Democracy at Bay (2007), Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-0877-3.
  16. ^ "Long Hair always wears Ernesto Che Guevara T-shirt". mass-age.com, retrieved 26 April 2007
  17. ^ Zeng, Vivienne (18 September 2015). "Hong Kong footballer wins Fair Play Award at Homeless World Cup". Hong Kong Free Press. 

External links[edit]

Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Andrew Wong
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for New Territories East
2004 present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew To
Chairman of League of Social Democrats
2012–2016
Succeeded by
Avery Ng
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Paul Tse
Member of the Legislative Council
Hong Kong order of precedence
Member of the Legislative Council
Succeeded by
Claudia Mo
Member of the Legislative Council