Results of by-election a serious cause for concern in Hong Kong: China Daily

Mr Alvin Yeung (centre), a candidate from the Civic Party, celebrating with supporters after winning the Legislative Council by-election in Hong Kong, China, on Feb 29, 2016.
Mr Alvin Yeung (centre), a candidate from the Civic Party, celebrating with supporters after winning the Legislative Council by-election in Hong Kong, China, on Feb 29, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial, the paper highlights its concern over the backing that radical groups are getting from the younger generation.

As expected, the candidate from the Civic Party, Mr Alvin Yeung Ngok Kiu, on Sunday (March 28) won the Legislative Council by­-election for the New Territories East geographical constituency.

This outcome came as no surprise at all as this constituency has long been known as a stronghold of the opposition camp.

Mr Yeung was tipped before the poll to beat the candidate from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Holden Chow Ho Ding, by a small margin, and so he did.

What takes us aback, however, is the amount of votes cast for Mr Edward Leung Tin Kei, the candidate from Hong Kong Indigenous, a radical political group famous for advocating separatist ideas.

With violent scenes during the Mong Kok riot on Chinese New Year Day still fresh in people's memories, Mr Leung, who was arrested soon after the overnight riot for his alleged involvement, was able to scoop more than 60,000 votes ­ about 15 per cent of the total number of ballots cast.

While these figures look small in one constituency, they imply hundreds of thousands of supporters when projected into the entire electorate, which is about 3.7 million registered voters.

Not that all these people would take part in riots, but their sympathies for such radical bodies and what they represent are certainly a serious cause for concern.

Neither the authorities nor the community should sit back and let this malady continue to spread like cancer cells.

Even without post-mortem data, we would know these radical groups receive their main backing from the young generation, which has been indoctrinated with anti­-establishment and anti­-mainland ideologies in the classroom and through media that are hostile to the SAR government and Beijing.

Judges who treat those arrested for radical behaviour too leniently are making the situation worse by reinforcing the impression that these acts are not wrong and will go unpunished.

The effective therapy for this disease of radicalism and separatism is certainly strengthening civic education and introducing national education, plus addressing livelihood issues lest they be used as excuses by separatist forces to plant seeds of hatred toward the government and society.

And, from national security's point of view, legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law now appears all the more necessary.

But these measures take time to materialise and even longer to take effect.

In the short term, the silent majority, who remained dormant on Sunday, should come out in the upcoming LegCo general election to prevent with their votes any such radical candidates from entering our already chaotic legislature and further undermining social order and stability in our city.

*China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 newspapers.