The strong showing of localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei in the Legislative Council by-election for the New Territories East geographical constituency shows the public venting their anger at the government, said Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies.
Lau said the 66,000 votes amassed by Edward Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous, placing him third in the hotly contested race, did not necessarily equate to public support for localism or violence, news website hk01.com quoted Lau as saying.
“Voters are leveraging Edward Leung to voice their dissatisfaction towards the pan-democrats, the pro-establishment camp, the central government and the HKSAR administration, especially against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying,” Lau said.
He believes most of the votes for Edward Leung came from young people and the middle class.
Lau said the central government is not likely to take any immediate action in the wake of the election results.
Beijing will maintain its cautious approach and let the HKSAR government handle the situation by itself to avoid more youngsters becoming supporters of the aggressive localists.
He said CY Leung’s administration should adopt a two-pronged approach, that is to be tough on certain issues and go soft on others, in order to increase the number of allies and minimize the number of enemies.
Ming Pao Daily quoted Lau as saying that the pro-establishment camp could suffer more at the Legco elections in September if CY Leung fails to improve his policies in the coming few months.
Sources close to Beijing said the central government is still digesting and analyzing the election results, but those sources admitted that many were surprised by Edward Leung’s winning of 15 percent of the votes.
Terence Lin, an analyst at the Beijing Institute of Hong Kong & Macau Scholars, said the central government should not rely solely on the by-election results in assessing the chances of localist candidates winning seats at the Legco election in September or if more citizens will support violence.
Meanwhile, Civic Party chairperson Audrey Eu said CY Leung should consider the by-election results as a political warning.
If the by-election is seen as a referendum, the chief executive should step down as five out of the seven candidates were openly opposed to Leung seeking a second term.
Eu also blamed CY Leung’s iron-fist approach as the main reason for the strong opposition to his policies and programs.
On whether Beijing will tighten its grip on Hong Kong as a response to the by-election results, Civic Party leader Alan Leong said he hopes the central government does not misjudge the situation in Hong Kong.
“It will not work to play hard ball with the people of Hong Kong,” Leong said. “Reason with us and convince us.”
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