23 October 2016
Traditional voters may not be receptive to candidates advocating localism. Photo: HKEJ
Traditional voters may not be receptive to candidates advocating localism. Photo: HKEJ

New district council bets avoid localist issues in campaign

Some candidates in the Nov. 22 District Council elections have highlighted their localist beliefs in their campaign materials and introduction to voters on the website of the Registration and Electoral Office. 

But other aspirants have chosen to play down their localist ideology in a bid to win the support of traditional voters, Ming Pao Daily reported on Tuesday.

Many scholars have warned that those advocating localism would find it hard to win votes, especially in districts under the control of pro-Beijing politicians.

Youngspiration, a newly formed political organization that advocates Hong Kong’s separation from mainland China and opposes the “mainlandization of Hong Kong”, has opted not to dwell on their political beliefs in the campaign.

Convenor Baggio Leung Chung-hang said the group is focused on attainable objectives.

Hong Kong will never become independent, so it is pointless to include that on a candidate’s agenda, Leung said.

Ronald Leung Kam-shing, a spokesman for the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, is also running in the district council elections, but he said his political agenda is “somewhat mainstream”.

He said he tries to avoid talking against parallel trading by mainland shoppers in the district, although he has been carrying the issue as a political activist for the past three years.

On the other hand, Civic Passion candidates have chosen a more aggressive approach, highlighting in their campaign their desire to “banish invaders from the mainland”.

They are also campaigning against the solo visit scheme, which they blame for the influx of mainland tourists into the territory.

Legislator Wong Kwok-kin of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said Hong Kong independence and localism are not yet accepted by people at the district level.

So instead of discussing about their political ideas, localist candidates are taking a more pragmatic approach, such as helping seniors measure their blood pressure or distributing free face masks, Wong said.

They are no different from traditional candidates, Wong said, “unless you only want a platform to promote your ideas and winning the election is of secondary importance.”

Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said candidates who have spent a long period of time in the district where they are running will definitely have better chances of winning.

As such, new aspirants advocating localism may find themselves struggling against traditional candidates, Chung said.

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