High-pressure tactics will push independence advocates underground and infiltrate government, say disqualified lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang.
The two - convicted of illegal assembly for leading a clash inside the Legislative Council meeting room on November 2, 2016, in attempt to retake their oaths - will be sentenced today at the Kowloon City Magistrates' Court.
The Youngspiration duo told The Standard that independence advocates should join the government - as administrative officers, firemen or policemen - following the "heavy-handed" prosecution of Mong Kok protesters and other activists.
"Take Catalonia as an example their firefighters would hold their equipment and block the Spanish riot police," Leung said. "The only thing is that you shouldn't forget your initial aspiration, and you may even conceal yourself for several decades, just like Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui."
Lee was expelled from the Kuomintang after helping found the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union.
Localists joining elections have been reiterating that they have given up advocating Hong Kong independence or at least have not been mentioning it.
But, speaking to The Standard, Yau and Leung pledged for the first time that they support independence. They justified their stand by saying that incidents involving the disappearance of booksellers and the Legco candidate disqualifications showed the inability of the Basic Law to protect Hongkongers.
"If even things written in black and white in the constitution are not observed, then the constitution is nonsense. So if the system can't protect people's democratic rights, the system should change," Leung said. "Independence is the only path unless you want Hong Kong to be under autocratic rule."
Yau said the two have been telling others about their independence advocacy and now it is time to "transcend mere advocacy and do something to actualize it." For example, doing community work to gain connections with other people.
The pair did not say what else they would do to pursue independence. "Why should we let the government know our next step? The government will just ban us, as all licenses have to be approved by them."
Yau said people should not feel disappointed even though there were so many failures and so many comrades going to jail. She still has a glimmer of hope.
"Taking the perspective of a person 50 years in the future, this period of Hong Kong history is obviously one before a regime is overthrown," Yau said. "The regime won't live long, and that's why it keeps on persecuting the so-called dissidents, in order to buy time to mainlandize Hong Kong."