Elmer Yuen—also known as “Papa Yuen”—an entrepreneur and political commentator who gained widespread respect in the pro-democracy Hong Kong community after the 2019 anti-extradition protests, called on the youth of Hong Kong to get involved with democracy and to face the realities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) if they want universal suffrage and real democracy. Speaking at the “Hong Kong’s Way Out” conference on Feb. 19, Yuen stressed the importance of young people taking action.
“You young people need to organize parties… Run in elections, organize parties… debate with others,” Yuen told Bonnie Wong in Cantonese. Wong is a representative of the Hong Kong Parliament who attended the conference remotely. “You debate, discuss, and vote in the parliament before finally making decisions, which will be the decisions of the Hong Kong people. [They’re] not the decisions by you or me, but by the parliament,” Yuen said.
He also mentioned that young people in Nanjing City gathered around the bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China and the first leader Nationalist Party of China during the Chinese New Year, as a protest against the current CCP regime. When asked how Hong Kong people can avoid the CCP, Yuen gave a direct and simple answer: “You can’t.” “You can’t avoid it. Face it,” he said.
In 2019, millions of people marched peacefully against the Hong Kong executive’s proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which would have allowed Chinese agents to extradite Hong Kongers to mainland China freely. The protest grew in momentum until 2 million people took to the streets —a quarter of the city’s population. The amendment was widely regarded as a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and undermining of rule of law in the former British colony. Protestors and the authorities clashed in various venues, which led to Beijing’s further passing of the controversial Hong Kong National Security Law in 2020.
Elmer Yuen, an anti-CCP entrepreneur, co-launched a group dedicated to establishing a Hong Kong Parliament in 2022, making him the second Hong Kong resident who is not a Chinese national wanted based on the law. Yuen’s daughter-in-law Eunice Yung Hoi-yan, a Pro-CCP LegCo member, renounced her relationship with Yuen right after the launch of the committee, criticizing the Hong Kong Parliament as “a premeditated and malicious organization toward [the] Hong Kong government.”
Meanwhile, fellow panellist Dr. Bin Lin, an advocate for Hong Kong democracy and media commentator, said that universal suffrage was promised by Beijing when it took Hong Kong back from the United Kingdom in 1997, yet if the autocratic regime in mainland China does not change, Hong Kong will never be free. He urged overseas Hong Kong people to adhere to the Lion Rock spirit of perseverance and solidarity, which is shown by young people in the anti-extradition protests in 2019.