Both the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps are stepping up efforts to name their respective candidates in the by-election for the Legislative Council seat left vacant by ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) on Tuesday announced that the by-election for the Kowloon West geographical constituency will be held on Nov. 25.
The announcement came after Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said earlier this month that the six-month timeframe for the EAC to prepare for a poll of this kind will be met.
Based on the EAC regulations, the nomination period is scheduled to end by the third week of October, RTHK reported.
Lau and three other pro-democracy lawmakers－“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Edward Yiu Chung-yim－were disqualified from Legco by the High Court in July last year after their oath-taking in October 2016 was declared invalid.
The founder of Democracy Groundwork told a press conference on May 29 that she has decided to abandon her appeal against the decision to pave the way for a by-election, although she did not make it clear if she intends to join the race to recapture her former seat.
While Lau may be banned from running again for the same seat, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, convenor of Power for Democracy, which is responsible for coordinating the primary for the pan-democratic camp, revealed on Tuesday that most representatives of parties in the camp have expressed their support for Lau to run.
Former Labour Party chairman and former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, who is secretary of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, has been selected the “Plan B” candidate in case Lau cannot stand in the by-election, Chiu said, adding that another coordination meeting for the by-election is scheduled to be held in July after the one held in the middle of the month.
Lau said former lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee from the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood was the only one who disagreed with such an arrangement.
She remains hopeful that a consensus on the pan-democratic candidate can be reached soon because of the limited time to prepare for the by-election.
Fung said he has proposed to Chiu that the pan-democratic camp should have a discussion in relation to adopting the arrangement used in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in which the results of public polls were used to determine a candidate, but his suggestion was ignored, adding that this was undemocratic.
Chiu has not responded to Fung’s remarks.
Meanwhile, the pro-establishment camp has also not decided on its candidate yet.
Starry Lee Wai-king, who chairs the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the largest political party in the group, is urging for a decision to be made as soon as possible.
Lee said many parties in the camp, including DAB, are interested in naming their candidates, stressing that the selected one should be able to bring the camp together.
Rumors have it that former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man will represent the pro-establishment camp in the by-election.
But Ko said through his former political assistant Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan that no decision has been made yet and he hopes the camp will keep looking for a more suitable candidate.
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