If you’re a UQ student, you’ve likely heard of Drew Pavlou. In 2019, he was assaulted by pro-CCP agitators at a protest he led in support of Uighurs and Hong Kongers. In 2020, he was suspended by the university, and rendered ineligible to continue as an undergraduate Senator, despite having been democratically elected to do so. Later that year, Drew filed a case against the university – naming Peters Varghese and Høj – for 3.5 million dollars in damages. More recently, though, you’d’ve heard that he launched a new political party alongside a campaign for seats in the Australian Senate.
I spoke to Max Mok, the newest Democratic Alliance candidate, to find out more. Max grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Australia, having renounced his dual citizenship. He describes his experience of the pair as “like being in different worlds”. As he tells it, the primary reason HK youth become radicalised is due to there being “no parliament and, therefore, no civilised way for its citizens to voice their concerns”.
Max would know, too – having been one of these radical HK activists. Though he has reportedly more recently disavowed vandalism and violence as means for political change, Max says he won’t condemn these methods and stands by his actions; “these are nothing compared to how scary it is to see friends disappearing off the streets”.
For Max and Drew, the key importance of forming a minor party is in not being beholden to party lines. By reacting to alienation from Australia’s mostly two-party system, in working outside of electoralism through pro-democracy campaigns, the pair, and supporters, have sought – according to Max – to “not be bound by the left-right divide”.
It’s not just about getting elected, either. In fact, Max thinks that would be “very unlikely”. Rather, it’s about exposing CCP influence and other foreign interference, “a continuation of the greatest fight of the century”, and, more broadly, galvanising Australians.
When Max fled Hong Kong, aided by Foreign Correspondent, he had “enough for two months’ rent” and thus worked in construction sites, cafes, and would even have “cleaned lobster from the laps of Chinese billionaires”, because he felt lucky to have escaped and did not want to let that go to waste.
Reintegration into Monash uni life was tough. Max was shocked by people’s apathy, and at “protests getting laughed off campus”, and so deferred to focus on activism. He recalls the stark, and painful, contrast between the idea that “students could be so distraught at being late for class sign-ons” when he and others were “constantly preoccupied with what the world looks like when you take a step back”.
“Cronies are running this country and the youth of Australia, broadly, do not really participate in politics – it’s dismal. We need to get things done in this generation, and by our hands, whether that’s by sending a warning shot to the likes of Gladys Liu or, for our climate, stopping big corporations from polluting and draining entire rivers. I will not be elected, but I will have pulled back the veil on CCP conspirators and on other issues.”Max Mok
Max asked me to share links to the Democratic Alliance [www.maxmok.com] and HK Pace Qld [@hkpaceqld], and encourages readers to reach out to “feel what it’s like working alongside human rights activists”.
It’s a good feeling, he says.