Youngspiration, a political force for localism that emerged from last year’s Umbrella Movement, did not do too badly in the recent district elections.
Dr. Kwong Po-yin, one of its nine candidates, won a seat in Whampoa West, surprising everyone.
And if Yau Wai-ching had managed another 300 votes, she would have beaten barrister Priscilla Leung, a veteran politician who has been the incumbent councilor in Whampoa East since 2008.
It’s just the beginning.
Now Youngspirationists know what it takes to run an election campaign and win.
Plus, they have tasted public support for their agenda.
Yau attributed her defeat to the fact that the party has not served the constituency long enough.
“I will do a better job next time,” she said.
Meanwhile, Yau and her peers are doing their best to correct any misconceptions that they are just young people who come around and put on a show during elections then disappear.
In fact, this “umbrella soldier” has witnessed change in the neighborhood since she began making frequent visits to an uncle who lives there.
Yau remembers a time when Whampoa was a showcase of urban planning.
Now it’s overrun with tourist buses disgorging visitors from mainland China.
“That’s really annoying and causing inconvenience to residents. We have been trying to bring this to the attention of the government. We want the neighborhood restored to its old dynamics,” she said.
Yau is moving closer to her advocacy. She is looking for office space in Whampoa while Youngspiration is planning activities to bring residents together.
It helps that Yau has a charming personality, although she’d prefer to be seen as someone who is working hard for the community.
Yau never thought of going into politics until the democracy movement gave her an eye-opener.
“The pro-democracy campaign lasted 79 days but brought nothing,” she said.
“We felt disheartened. Later, somebody suggested that we should take the fight to the District Council.”
Youngspiration was founded on seven core values including genuine universal suffrage, autonomy, cultural and political rights and free speech.
The group believes that non-profit derivative works should enjoy protection.
If she is elected to the council next time around, she would keep communication lines with the government open.
This is one way of holding the government to a higher standard of disclosure and transparency, she said.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 24.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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