Hong Kong’s legislature, the Sixth Legislative Council (LegCo), will today reconvene.
Today’s LegCo session is the first following months of pro-democracy protests amid Beijing’s increasingly tough and intolerant attitude. The recent crackdown has directly undermined the LegCo’s authority by disqualifying pan-democratic candidates, postponing elections and indefinitely extending sitting members’ terms.
In response to Beijing’s securitising approach toward the opposition, three pan-democratic lawmakers have resigned, leaving only 19 lawmakers to defend the interests of Hong Kong’s democratic movement against 41 pro-establishment lawmakers. As the recent re-election of pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee as chair of the LegCo’s House Committee shows, opportunities for resistance within the current paradigm remain limited.
Today, expect the LegCo to peacefully convene and continue its role as the island’s primary legislative body. In the medium term, it is likely that pro-establishment legislators will use their artificial advantage in the LegCo to expand voting to Hong Kongers currently living in Guangdong, Macau and Shenzhen. With fears of increased election tampering, pan-democratic lawmakers will use their minority to filibuster the agenda. Yet with only 19 legislators and no guarantee of fair elections, expect them to be unsuccessful in accomplishing this Sisyphean task.
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Bilal is the Director of Training and Development. He holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where he extensively researched the US war in Afghanistan. Previously, Bilal has worked independently throughout mainland China as a teacher and as a domestic political communications fellow with Murmuration.