Question 1: Why did we set up the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament (HKSP)?
- Through the voting of local and overseas Hongkongers, the HKSP can aggregate the opinions of all Hongkongers, unite the Hong Kong community globally, and provide them with adequate representation.
- Provide public support for the international lobbying efforts in the future.
- Beijing has long rejected Hong Kong’s desire for democracy. People should establish a democratic mechanism by themselves instead of waiting for the mercy of the regime.
Question 2: What are the functions of the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament?
- Provide a secure place to express the true voice of Hongkongers in a democratic way.
- Provide a platform for Hongkongers, including those who are in exile or deprived of political rights, to engage in politics.
- Empower overseas Hongkongers and strengthen their connections with Hongkongers.
- Empower the international front of the democratic movement of Hong Kong.
- Offer a space for Hongkongers to engage in debates, governance, and democratic education in order to nurture political talents of Hong Kong.
- Provide a new perspective for the Hongkongers to understand the shortcomings of Hong Kong’s governance.
- Become a platform recognised by the people and reinforce the legitimacy of all advocacy groups.
Question 3: Is the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament a parliament or government in exile?
- No. If the project was named a parliament in exile, local Hongkongers would be excluded. The HKSP welcomes all Hongkongers across the globe to participate in this democratic mechanism, especially the electoral process.
- HKSP is not a government in exile. Since the HKSP does not have any power to govern the matters between Hongkongers, HKSP cannot be called a government.
- HKSP strives to gain legitimacy in the representation of Hongkongers.
Question 4: So why do we name ourselves as the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament?
The concept of “Shadow Parliament” is derived from the shadow cabinet in the UK. The meaning of “shadow” is to inspect the problems of the current regime in terms of the institutions and structure, as if the regime being placed on the operating table under the spotlight of the surgical lamp in revealing its existing problems.
Question 5: Is the HKSP attempting to play a role of a “leading stage”?
- A “leading stage” is usually conceived as a small clique which purports to speak on behalf of others based on a moral high ground and their influence.
- Instead of being a “leading stage”, the HKSP provides a platform for Hongkongers of different political views to articulate their opinions in a democratic mechanism which features transparency, openness, and accountability.
- Through the democratic mechanism of the HKSP, people could express their disagreement with a “leading stage” or the elected Representatives / candidates through direct voting or even choose to stand in election themselves.
Question 6: Is the Hong Kong Shadow Parliament advocating Hong Kong independence?
- The HKSP Secretariat is responsible for the creation of the democratic mechanism which runs on the basic principles of the HKSP. The democratic mechanism allows discussions on any topic related to Hong Kong, including Hong Kong independence.
- Therefore, Hong Kong independence per se is not on the agenda of the HKSP Secretariat. Instead, the ultimate responsibility of the HKSP is to reflect the opinion of Hongkongers in good faith. The discussion on Hong Kong independence will depend on the Representatives elected by the public.
Question 7: Who can participate in HKSP? What is the eligibility?
- In principle, all Hongkongers shall have the right to participate in the HKSP regardless of political opinions, locations, race, colour, religion, gender, ethnic origin, marital status, or sexual orientation.
- The definition of Hongkonger is one of the questions being put to the public in the public consultation.
- Contrary to the subjective definition of Hongkongers by the current regime, the HKSP Secretariat involves the public in the discussion of defining “Hongkongers” taking practicality, fairness and security into consideration. The HKSP Secretariat will never screen voters and candidates unless required by the Constitution.
Question 8: who can vote at HKSP?
- Similarly, all Hongkongers shall have the right to vote at the HKSP regardless of political opinions, locations, race, color, religion (creed), gender, national origin (ancestry), marital status, or sexual orientation.
Question 9: Where will the HKSP meetings be held?
- The HKSP is operating outside the jurisdictions of China and Hong Kong.
- The HKSP is currently registered in the United States and may also be registered in the United Kingdom soon. Registration is merely a matter of legal procedure. The HKSP will be operating across the globe.
- The HKSP Secretariat believes the elected Representatives will be located around the world. Therefore, the meetings will be conducted via the Internet.
- Depending on the budget, the HKSP Secretariat may hold a physical general assembly annually with all the elected Representatives.
Question 10: What is the form of the voting within HKSP?
- Online voting is the main form of voting within HKSP.
- In terms of identity verification, we will adopt a decentralised approach to verify voters’ identities through computer systems.
- The HKSP Secretariat will work with cybersecurity experts to decide on the voting method after the Public Consultation concludes.
- The purpose of our Public Consultation is to gather public opinions on the concept and the viability of HKSP. We believe that the technical challenges will be overcome once we have reached a public consensus.
Question 11: How do we guarantee the voters’ safety?
- The HKSP Secretariat encourages the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) during online voting. The Secretariat may also cooperate with VPN providers in the future to protect the confidentiality of the voters.
- The HKSP Secretariat will remind the voters to take necessary safety precautions both prior and during the election.
- The HKSP Secretariat believes that safety is best guaranteed when there is a significant voter turnout. For example, more than 600,000 Hongkongers cast their votes during the democratic primaries in 2020 through not only online voting but also in-person voting after the draconian National Security Law had gone into force.
Question 10: What are the purposes of the HKSP Public Consultation?
- The main purpose of the HKSP Public Consultation is to initiate public discussion on establishing a democratic mechanism that truly represents Hongkongers.
- The establishment of such democratic mechanism must be done through the most democratic method – Public Consultation
- The HKSP Secretariat wishes to disseminate the concept of HKSP to local and overseas Hongkongers gradually. We will strive to advance the HKSP further with adequate momentum and least resistance when the public becomes more familiar with the concept.
- Upon the completion of the Public Consultation period, the HKSP Secretariat will pass the feedback on to the academic committee formed of academic scholars. A subsequent report will be published in relation to the establishment of the rules that formulate democratic mechanism of the HKSP. These rules will serve as a framework that provides a democratic mechanism in generating the first term of the HKSP Representatives.
- Since the first term of the HKSP Representatives will have obtained sufficient democratic legitimacy, the Representatives shall formulate and pass the constitution of the HKSP. In another word, the purpose of the first term of HKSP is to form a constitutional assembly.
Question 13: What is the duration of the public consultation period?
- At least 3 months. But the actual duration depends on the political situation and the public response.
- The HKSP Secretariat is in no rush to complete the Public Consultation process. We believe that attaining democracy for Hongkongers is a long-term goal in the Hong Kong Democratic Movement. Therefore, we are polishing the idea and mechanism very carefully in order to nurture a mature HKSP.
- Under the deteriorating political situation in Hong Kong, the HKSP Secretariat aspires to propose new ideas and invite overseas activists to participate in a viable project, so that they could continue to speak up or act on something that cannot be done or said by local Hongkongers.
Question 14: What is the structure of HKSP and how it is constituted?
The current conceived structure of the HKSP is described below:
- The HKSP Secretariat is a neutral administrative body with the core responsibility of maintaining the democratic mechanism within the HKSP. Additionally, the Secretariat is responsible for the daily administrative work. The Secretariat is accountable to the HKSP and therefore is subject to scrutiny by the elected Representatives, House Speaker and Speaker’s Office through check and balances.
- Members of the HKSP Secretariat are expected to demonstrate professionalism in managing the daily tasks of the HKSP. Their stay at the office depends on their position, duties, and performance.
- After the generation of the first term of HKSP Representatives and the subsequent formulation of the HKSP constitution, the HKSP Secretariat will play a guardian role in defending the constitution. From the constitutional perspective, the HKSP Secretariat must maintain political neutrality. In another word, the Secretariat must maintain the fundamental principle of democratic mechanism of the HKSP.
- The HKSP is mainly constituted by the elected Representatives responsible for making political decisions and stances towards various issues. As the Representatives elected by Hongkongers, they serve as the protagonists of the Shadow Parliament (as opposed to the HKSP Secretariat).
- Based on their political stances and the issues that concern Hongkongers, the Representatives could initiate debates and discussions under the established rules. The debates will be livestreamed to ensure transparency.
- Therefore, the HKSP is a vibrant and organic organisation as its democratic mechanism allows the Representatives to spontaneously decide whether they will stand together based on different feelings and chemistry. Together with general Hongkongers, the HKSP Secretariat looks forward to the actual effect once there is such a democratic parliament in place for Hong Kong.
- The House Speaker is elected by the Representatives.
- The House Speaker and its office will be responsible for enforcing the rules and procedure in maintaining the parliamentary procedures.
Question 15: Why is the HKSP not formed or promoted by some well-known activists?
- In principle, every overseas activist has full potential and opportunities to take part in HKSP elections. However, in order to maintain the neutrality of HKSP, it should be the job of the Secretariat to initiate the HKSP prior to the potential candidates’ decisions to run for the elections.
- Since the HKSP Secretariat must remain neutral in its administrative role, no Secretariat members are allowed to stand as candidates in HKSP elections in order to prevent conflict of interest. For example, Secretariat members shall not set rules which would favour one’s own faction at the formation stage of HKSP.
Question 16: What is the relationship between the HKSP and the “International Front”?
- Under the shadow of the National Security Law, there is an increasing risk for the political participation in Hong Kong in both LegCo and street actions. Therefore, the International Front plays a vital role in the Hong Kong Democratic Movement.
- Although more and more Hongkongers are going into exile due to political oppression and disappointment, the HKSP Secretariat hopes these Hongkongers could continue to care about the democratic development and future of Hong Kong even if they had left the city.
- Meanwhile, the Secretariat acknowledges the fact that some Hongkongers who were able to go into exile simply because of the sacrifices made by some protesters. Therefore, the best approach to paying tribute to the sacrificed protesters is to fulfill their wishes when we are enjoying our freedom. These are also the common wishes of ours – freedom and democracy.
- Since the Chinese legal system and law enforcement could not be extended to overseas and virtual spaces, the Hong Kong’s quest for democracy must be shifted outside the Chinese jurisdiction. That is, to carry on our fight overseas and on the Internet.
- The HKSP Secretariat believes Hong Kong is a spirit that eternally lives in our heart. Regardless of the geographical boundary, Hongkongers could participate in the HKSP no matter where we are, so that the global community would be supportive of the Hong Kong Democratic Movement in the long run. Ultimately, we could liberate Hong Kong with freedom and democracy in the Mission of Our Times.
- Since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, the Chinese Communist Party has been quite successful in disassociating overseas activists from domestic citizens. The best way to fend off the attempts of disassociation is to establish a democratic platform – Hong Kong Shadow Parliament, on which every Hongkonger could cast their votes no matter where they are. The HKSP is committed to uniting Hongkongers based on the common goal for freedom and democracy.
- In practice, The Hong Kong Shadow Parliament can also facilitate the International Front as the HKSP does not only represent an individual responsible for fragmented work. Instead, the HKSP establishes a constant communication channel and linkage with the people based on fairness, openness, and transparency. With the momentum backed by the people, this offers democratic legitimacy for the HKSP to engage with leaders of other countries equally in a bid to promote advocacy work.
- Last but not least, the HKSP does not solely rely on the foreign policy measures of other countries and the international community. Through the HKSP, Hongkongers could empower themselves to provide legitimacy to the International Front.