14 November 2018
Alice Mak is seen as a likely candidate if the Federation of Trade Unions takes a shot at Super DC seats in the 2020 Legco election. Photo: HKEJ
Alice Mak is seen as a likely candidate if the Federation of Trade Unions takes a shot at Super DC seats in the 2020 Legco election. Photo: HKEJ

The predicament of the Federation of Trade Unions

Although the next Legislative Council election is still three years away, many political parties and entities have already begun planning and preparing for it. Among such entities is the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), which currently holds four seats in the legislature.

However, it is said that while the FTU is aggressively eyeing the 2020 Legco election, its leadership is still wavering over whether to send any candidate to run for seats in the functional constituency representing the District Council (Second), more commonly known as the “Super District Council (DC) Seats”, because of the painful lesson the party learnt last year.

In the last Legco election, the FTU suffered a major defeat in running for the Super DC seats as its seasoned party stalwart, Wong Kwok-hing, failed to get re-elected despite securing an impressive 230,000 votes.

In contrast, Starry Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and the party rookie Holden Chow Ho-ding swept to an easy victory in the Super DC seat election, thanks to painstaking vote coordination efforts made by the Beijing’s Liaison Office. And the duo are very likely to seek another term in the 2020 election.

The FTU has serious reservations about running for the Super DC seats because under the existing practice, when it comes to the Liaison Office’s vote coordination efforts, DAB candidates are always taken good care of and given priority over all other candidates from the rest of the pro-establishment parties, including the FTU.

And given the so-called “3:2 golden ratio”, which refers to the long-standing voting pattern under which the pan-democrats are always able to maintain three Super DC seats, the chances of the FTU gaining a seat are indeed quite remote.

However, given the irresistible high public recognition, credibility and political prestige attached to the Super DC seats, it remains possible that the FTU leadership might still find that it is worth the risk.

According to some in the political circles, if the FTU takes a shot at the Super DC seats again in the 2020 Legco election, Alice Mak Mei-kuen would likely be nominated the party’s candidate.

It is because, as a rising star at a relatively young age in the FTU, Alice Mak’s competence and steady performance as a lawmaker has been held in considerable regard among the pro-Beijing camp.

As such, it would definitely boost her political credentials as the next FTU leader if she manages to win a Super DC seat.

However, running for the Super DC seat would also be a huge political gamble for Mak, because if she loses like Wong Kwok-hing did, it could harm her political career.

So far neither the FTU nor Mak has confirmed any intention to run for the Super DC seats in the 2020 election, but they certainly will have a very tough decision to make in the coming days.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 8

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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