A total of six people are vying for the New Territories East geographical constituency seat in the Legislative Council by-election, but observers feel the race is essentially between two of the contenders — Bill Tang Ka-piu and Gary Fan Kwok-wai.
Tang, a former lawmaker who failed to get re-elected in the constituency in 2016, has vowed to make a comeback as he represents not only the Federation of Trade Unions this time but also the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which is currently the largest party in the Legco.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Tang said the difference between him and Fan — who belongs to HK First – is that the backing that Tang has received from the pro-establishment camp is sincere, while the pan-democratic camp’s support for Fan is not.
Moreover, the 38-year-old hopeful claimed that voters know very well that he stands for “returning to rationality”, unlike Fan who he said can only help extend confrontations between the two broad political camps in the city.
Tang criticized his rival, saying the rival contender lacks the ability to pull people behind him.
Mainstream public opinion is that there should be no more rifts in the Legco, something that Fan will not be able to ensure if he makes it to the House, Tang said, accusing his rival of harboring the view that there are fundamental conflicts between the interests of Hong Kong and Beijing.
Fan, on his part, rebuffed suggestions that his position has been weakened by disunity within the opposition bloc.
Speaking to HKEJ, the former lawmaker, who is from Neo Democrats, said his win in the pan-democratic camp’s primary for the constituency in January showed that those who support the camp wanted him to represent them and fight the pro-establishment bloc in the Legco.
Calling on supporters to give top priority to the overall situation and vote for him, Fan revealed that he has paid a visit to most democrats and reached a consensus with them over the bottom lines set on various agenda and the view toward the big picture.
Meanwhile, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, a Sai Kung District councilor who has also joined the by-election after she lost in the 2016 Legco race, when she garnered more votes than both Tang and Fan, claimed that she is serious about her bid and that she is not running just to see another candidate win.
Touting her credentials, Fong claimed that she is the only candidate who has put livelihood issues on top of the agenda.
Fong believes she represents the best choice for voters. Voters are practical and will not vote for a candidate based on just which camp they belong to, she said.
It should not be seen as a miracle if she wins, Fong added.
Apart from Tang, Fan and Fong, the others who are in the March 11 contest for the New Territories East seat are Nelson Wong Sing-chi, Estella Chan Yuk-ngor (Jenny) and Joyce Chiu Pui-yuk.
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