As the ousted localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai announced on Tuesday that she had decided to drop her appeal against her disqualification, the way has been cleared for a by-election to fill the remaining vacant seat in Kowloon West.
The pan-democrats are apparently dead set on taking back the seat and have already agreed unanimously on their choice of candidate: either Lau herself, though she remains undecided on whether she will go for the bypoll, or former Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan as the “Plan B” option in case Lau is barred from running again.
However, in contrast, leaders of the pro-establishment camp are still tearing their hair out looking for the right and qualified candidate to run against the pan-dems.
It is because even though both Scott Leung Man-kwong representing the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) and Dominic Lee Tsz-king representing the Liberal Party have already expressed their intention to run, there is a grave concern that they would be no match for Lee in terms of both credentials and experience.
Rather, there has been a talk that some in the pro-establishment camp, particularly Beijing’s liaison office, have still not given up on their hope of talking former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man into entering the race, even though Ko had been reluctant to jump into the fray.
Some pro-establishment camp members believed the reason why those have been so eagerly seeking Ko’s willingness to run for Legco is that these people wanted to diversify in the Kowloon West constituency by introducing a relatively popular figure of another background who belongs to neither the BPA nor the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
There is also an analysis that the reason why the pro-establishment camp has been working so aggressively to thwart the pan-dems’ by-election bid is because it is so desperate to maintain its razor-thin majority in the geographical constituencies in Legco.
At present, the pro-Beijing camp holds 17 seats in the Legco geographical constituencies, just one seat more than the pan-dems.
If the pan-dems manage to take back the remaining vacant seat in Kowloon West in the upcoming by-election, they will get even with the pro-establishment camp in the geographical constituencies, a scenario where the pro-establishment camp will lose its advantage over the geographical constituencies.
As such, the pro-establishment camp fully supports Ko in running the by-election in order to secure this crucial seat.
However, the problem is, according to sources, Ko is not interested in running, although he has been willing to campaign for another pro-establishment candidate.
It appears the pro-establishment camp has to come up with some more convincing grounds in order to make Ko change his mind.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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