Before 2014, the subject of political and social affairs was a taboo in Hong Kong. 5 years later, the government's Anti-Extradition Bill proposition sparked Hong Kongers’ awareness and apprehension. The city was no longer the same. The future of this 7-million populated metropolis has been threatened. Today, young activist Nathan Law shares with us his story - the youngest lawmaker in Hong Kong’s history who is forced to leave his hometown in exile, yet continues to strive towards liberating Hong Kong.
Before I became a student leader in the protest movement, I was an ordinary high school kid with a humble background. In my working-class family, we never talked about politics or social affairs. It was the general atmosphere of the society in 2014 that made me step into the arena of social changes.
What was your impression of the HK government?
From the time I understood how the government works, I realized that it does not represent Hongkongers. The system is tilted towards the powerful and the rich. I witnessed poverty and tragedies growing up in one of the most underprivileged neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. The society needs change, the government should change.
Did you have any Childhood dream, other than being a politician?
I have never dreamt of becoming a politician. My parents always said that politics is dirty and the Chinese Communist Party is way too powerful to fight against. I want to prove that politics could be hopeful and inspiring. Politics should not solely belong to the circles of wealth and power. We, the everyday-men, and ordinary can make a change.
What problems did you spot in society when you were in college? Which led to your activism?
Political reform was the most heated topic when I was a freshman. As half an intellect, I consider college students sharing the responsibility to facilitate social changes, leading the society to a better future. We need the voice of the youth and the energy of change. That's why I participated in the student union and started fighting for our future.
In general, many of the socio-economic problems in Hong Kong originate from the undemocratic system. The wealth gap, inequalities, and other social problems benefit the tycoons that transformed their economic capital to political power, and colluded with the CCP to rule Hong Kong. Therefore, the first and foremost social campaign I was involved in was about democracy.
Which incident sparked your interest in pursuing a political career?
After the Umbrella Movement, I felt the need to inject youth energy into the aging political scene in Hong Kong. Therefore, I founded Demosisto with Joshua, Agnes, and other student leaders, and ran for office in 2016. It was the first time I was seen not only as an activist, but also a politician.
Now that you are in exile, what are your objectives?
My objectives are clear –
- To raise awareness on Hong Kong and China issues,
- To preserve the Hongkonger identity
- To fight for a more democratic global community.
It's important for us to have a voice from Hong Kong that enjoys recognition from the international community, and be able to explain the complicated situation in Hong Kong to policymakers and ordinary citizens.
How do you see yourself in the near future?
I will continue to be very fluid, to adopt positions that can best serve the interest of the Hong Kong democratic movement. In almost a year of my exiled life, I have been in many positions and exploit the resources that I have to support Hong Kong. In the future, I hope that I can play a more important role in gluing overseas Hongkongers together and create a force of good for our fellows.
What can Americans do to help to change the future of you and HK?
Politics is local. Only by influencing local politics can we generate more political support for the Hong Kong movement. Approach your representation, voice support to Hong Kong and spread the word. Every action counts.