At least 88 of the 384 independent candidates in the District Council elections on Nov. 22 were found to be members of active associations close to the pro-establishment camp, Ming Pao Daily reported on Monday.
An investigative team from the newspaper found that 66 of the 88 candidates came from three associations controlled by the pro-establishment camp, namely the Hong Kong Island Federation (HKIF), Kowloon Federation of Associations (KFA) and New Territories Association of Societies (NTAS).
NTAS chairman Leung Chi-cheung confirmed that it is supporting 161 candidates in the District Council (DC) elections, second only to the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which is fielding 171 candidates.
However, only five candidates have revealed they are backed by NTAS.
The Registration and Electoral Office said DC candidates are not required by law to disclose their political affiliations, but they can opt to release such information for the information of the public.
The REO has not replied when asked about its definition of political affiliations.
Bunny Chan Chung-bun, who is running for the Hip Hong district of Kwun Tong, is a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, chairman of KFA, honorary chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organizations (FHKGCO), and chairman of a group he founded.
Chan said KFA and FHKGCO are not political groups, while the group he founded is not a party, but an independent platform for legislative and district councilors.
HKIF president Choi Ngai said he could not comment as he is not well-versed with the issue.
Of the 66 candidates affiliated with pro-establishment groups, 16 were unopposed while 78 percent of the remaining 50 candidates are competing with those from the pan-democratic camp, the report said.
Dr Chung Kim-wah from Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policy Studies said the lines defining political groups and organizations are quite blurred as there are laws governing political parties in Hong Kong.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, former head of the government think tank Central Policy Unit, said candidates will disclose their political affiliation if they think the information will favor their campaign.
– Contact us at [email protected]