23 February 2019
Chan Yuen-han says she is focused on her job and has not given much thought to running again. Photo: HKEJ
Chan Yuen-han says she is focused on her job and has not given much thought to running again. Photo: HKEJ

Sister Han vs Wong: Who will survive in November?

One can expect fierce fighting among political parties in the District Council elections at the end of this year and the Legislative Council elections next year.

However, since the outcome of the ongoing political reform still hangs in the balance, major political parties are keeping a low profile as circumstances might change at any given moment.

The results of the District Council elections in November will be critical. They will determine who will be eligible to run for so-called “super seats” in the next Legco elections.

Given that Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho has said he will resign to trigger a referendum after the political reform package is put to a vote in Legco, many believe he will not seek reelection in 2016 and will be replaced by a younger party colleague.

Another Democratic Party heavyweight, James To, has said it’s up to his party to decide who should run.

The pan-democratic camp is likely to see a major overhaul in the next Legco election, so is the pro-establishment camp.

Starry Lee, the DAB chairperson hopeful, is likely to be elected through to the “super seats”.

She managed to take a lot of pro-establishment votes from Chan Yuen-han (nicknamed Sister Han) of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) in the last election.

It seems the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong will have its work cut out for it trying to coordinate the campaign between the two leading pro-establishment parties.

However, it remains a mystery whether 69-year-old Sister Han will contend again in the upcoming elections. Even high ranking HKFTU personnel refrain from confirming that with her.

As HKFTU chairperson, Chan is a seasoned politician and a highly respected figure in the pro-establishment camp and the labor sector. She often plays teacher in front of government officials during Legco meetings.

She once resigned from politics because of health problems but staged a comeback in 2012.

Her party will find it reassuring if she stays on a little longer but that will also mean someone has to go.

It is said that there is an unwritten rule in HKFTU — the two lawmakers representing the labor sector are only allowed to stay in the functional constituency for a single term, after which they must offer their seats to younger colleagues and run in the geographical constituencies.

Sources say Tang Ka-piu and Kwok Wai-keung, the two incumbent FTU lawmakers representing the labor sector, are planning to run in New Territories East and Hong Kong Island, respectively, in 2016.

Unfortunately, under such arrangement, Wong Kwok-hing, the FTU incumbent in Hong Kong Island, will have to switch to another geographical constituency.

It is said that if Chan Yuen-han decides against running again, Wong will replace her and contend for a “super seat”. Otherwise, Wong will have to step down for good.

In other words, only Chan or Wong will survive.

We got in touch with Sister Han yesterday and tried to find out whether she will run again for Legco in 2016, but she said she wanted to focus on her job and hadn’t given any thought to the idea.

We will soon find out when the entry period for the District Council elections begins.

If she signs up for that, it will become clear she will be running again in 2016, and vice versa.

We will know before the end of the year whether Wong Kwok-hing will continue to demonstrate his calligraphy and engage in verbal battles with pan-democrats in the chamber after 2016.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 28.

Translation by Alan Lee

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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