Salon in Berlin: Paradox of the Leaderless Movement in HK

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Some figures emerge from social movements as leaders of the people, whether they choose or accept these labels or not. While having leaders might seem more effective and efficient strategies in organising protests, this approach is often being criticised dysfunctional as it fails in representing all the voices of the crowds. A belief in traditional leadership is also contradictory to the pursuit of an ideal democracy of civil disobedience, in which everyone has the same importance in the decision making process.

After the failure of the Umbrella Revolution in 2014, Hong Kong is experiencing another notable movement, Summer of Discontent. People have come to a consensus to have no big leader but solidarity with all groups with different opinions, while Joshua Wong is still regarded as a significant leader by pro-Beijing camp and even prosecuted for inciting people to participate in the protests.

How does Joshua see the development of the form of protest? What are the struggles he has been facing as a former leader of protest?

Joshua Wong (22) is one of the most known young activists and politicians in Hong Kong. Wong started his public interest career by founding Hong Kong student activist group Scholarism in 2011, which managed to organise a political rally attended by over 100,000 people and pressured the government to withdraw the moral and national education proposal successfully. In 2014, Wong brought his influence into the Umbrella Movement and was regarded as one of the main student leaders, resulted in his inclusion in TIME magazine's Most Influential Teens of 2014 and nomination for its 2014 Person of the Year.

Yet political prosecutions have never been missing out in Wong’s life, he was convicted and jailed for his leadership in Umbrella Revolution in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Wong was again arrested on suspicion of participating and inciting others to participate in an unauthorised assembly during protests outside police headquarters on 21 June during the Water Revolution.