Date
17 November 2018
A file picture shows Ko Wing-man at a campaign event for Tony Tse in the March Legco by-election. According to pro-establishment sources, Ko was actually their top choice of candidate for the Kowloon West constituency but the offer was declined by him. Ph
A file picture shows Ko Wing-man at a campaign event for Tony Tse in the March Legco by-election. According to pro-establishment sources, Ko was actually their top choice of candidate for the Kowloon West constituency but the offer was declined by him. Ph

Why the establishment camp may want Ko Wing-man for a bypoll

Lau Siu-lai, one of the six ousted opposition lawmakers, told the media recently that she could withdraw her judicial review application against her disqualification in order to allow the Legislative Council by-election in the Kowloon West constituency to take place as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, it is said that the pro-establishment camp is aggressively eyeing that vacant seat in Kowloon West, and that they have been intensely twisting the arm of former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man and trying to talk him into running once Lau drops her lawsuit and clears the way for the by-election.

The pro-Beijing camp favors Ko to run for the seat mainly because of his high popularity, as well as his pragmatic work style and moderate image.

In fact, according to pro-establishment sources, Ko was actually their number one choice of candidate for the by-election that took place on March 11, but the offer was declined by him.

As a result, the candidacy was eventually passed to Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), who, against enormous odds, defeated his pan-democratic rival by a narrow margin.

They believe Cheng’s victory can inspire Ko to change his mind and take up the candidacy. Some in the camp, however, believe Ko will just serve out his remaining term in the government and not stand for Legco election in 2020.

But if Ko agrees to run in the by-election and eventually wins, it will benefit the pro-establishment camp in some way.

For one, it will allow the camp to continue to hold the majority of seats in both the geographical and functional constituencies in Legco.

We should bear in mind that the pro-Beijing camp already occupies three seats in the Kowloon West constituency among the total five. If it sends its own person, from a political party, to run for the vacant seat in the by-election, and that candidate loses, the camp could lose its majority on seats in the geographical constituency.

Yet if that candidate wins, he or she will definitely seek re-election in the 2020 Legco race, thereby stretching the camp’s vote totals and support base in Kowloon West to a dangerous limit and even undermining the prospects of re-election of the three pro-establishment incumbents.

Therefore, either way, the pro-Beijing camp is going to face a predicament if it fields its own people to run in the by-election.

As such, Ko is simply an ideal solution to the pro-Beijing camp’s problem.

However, the question that remains is, would Ko be willing to “condescend” to serve as an elected lawmaker, and face his former deputy Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, the current Secretary for Food and Health, in the political arena and question Chan in relation to healthcare policies?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 20

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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