Exclusive: Interview with the backstage planner of Hong Kong Shadow Parliament – former British Consulate staff and former MP of Hong Kong

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The Hong Kong Shadow Parliament announced its official conception to “keep the flame of democracy alive” in Hong Kong, an online press conference shared on Thursday. 

Spearheaded by Simon Cheng Man-Kit, the Shadow Parliament (SP) insisted that it is not attempting to overshadow the Chinese government, but instead secure a position to express the voice of the people in Hong Konginternationally. 

Cheng told Eat News, “In fear of the rapid deterioration of voice and freedoms in Hong Kong, there is a present need for a liberating mechanism that reflects the true will of the Hong Kong people.”

“Hong Kongers at home and abroad lack the representation, in free and fair manner, to make their voice heard.”

“Moreover, the National Security Law imposed by Beijing and Hong Kong has stifled political debate. So, it initiated the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament which tries to address these challenges by building a new platform for Hong Kongers to express their will.”

The SP seeks to combat issues caused by the Chinese electoral system and the National Security Law which saw Cheng detained by Chinese Authorities in August 2019.

“Unfortunately, [the Chinese government] have fallen short of the people’s expectation,” Cheng said.

“Hopefully in the future they will have a one person, one vote;universal suffrage, but at this moment we can see none.”

Building international relationships is key to the SP as international non-governmental organisations have ‘more democratic vigilante’ than authorities in Hong Kong”, Cheng said. 

“We intend to create international relations and even empower those activism exiles to do so.

“In the future we can expect more and more civic groups and non-governmental organisations to take a bigger role to speak out.”

“Especially in Hong Kong, because if the Hong Kong authority cannot fully represent the people due to the skewed electoral system, then they are facing a huge democratic deficit.”

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Creating a network of solidarity for the people of Hong Kong is also fundamental to SP’s survival and sustainability, a SP spokesman told Eat News.

The spokesman added, “[International relationships] would really facilitate our democratic fight for freedom and democracy for Hong Kong people.”

The SP does not encourage a parliament in exile, despite what officials suggest, Cheng added.

In July, Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, warned the UK government over allowing a parliament in exile, however, the SP insist they serve as a neutral platform and democratic mechanism to empower those in Hong Kong. 

“The Shadow Parliament is not standing against the interest of the authorities in China or in Hong Kong. It’s actually helping them naturally and asking them to fulfil the expectation of the people. If you cannot fulfil, the people will build democracy outside.”

consultation paper, published by the SP, requests public consultation on how the SP should operate in terms of voting procedures, eligibility and electoral system.

Those residing in Hong Kong were advised to access the consultation paper and the Shadow Parliament website through a VPN.

Another victim of the National Security Law, activist and politician Baggio Leung, told Eat News of how he appeared on the “regime’s radar” again following his arrest in September this year and how the SP can aid Hong Kong’s democratic suppression. 

Currently seeking asylum in Washington D.C, US, Leung fled Hong Kong on November 30 after being followed by what is assumed to be Chinese authorities.

“This is how I think the National Security Law is affecting Hong Kong. It simply makes Hong Kong a city of white terror.”

“If you were arrested with the charge under the security law you will be banned from leaving Hong Kong,” Leung said. 

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Leung added that the SP will be the only legal political entity that has the proper mandate from Hong Kong people and act as a medium through which they can voice their opinions without suppression.

“Hong Kongers, we still [have] some words, some essays for the world, but we don’t have a channel, a medium, to do this and Shadow Parliament will fill these gaps.”

Those with a British National (Overseas) passport (BNO) can escape the National Security Law, however, people born after 1997 – when Hong Kong ceased being a British colony – cannot.

Leung continued, “What I am imposing now in the US is a lifeboat programme for people who don’t have a BNO. 

“A lot of Hong Konger’s may have a BNO but someone who was born after 1997, they don’t even have a chance to get a BNO. So, if countries like the US can offer some help to these small groups, it would be great.”

“The whole idea is how to slow China’s repression and how to send some lifeboat to Hong Konger’s.”

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Millie Turner is an Eat News correspondent in the UK who has received accolades for her features. She writes with special focus on international politics, corporate corruption, and the climate crisis.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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