After the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) announced that the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West geographical constituency will be held on Nov. 25, discussions in political circles are now focused on who will be the candidates of the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment camp.
While both camps are saying that the election date set by the EAC is a bit earlier than they had expected, the pan-dems seem better prepared than the pro-Beijing camp, with the latter still struggling to find the best candidate for the race.
According to sources, key figures in the pro-establishment camp have not given up on being able to convince former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man to enter the contest, even though he apparently has no intention to do so.
It is said that the camp will make a last-ditch effort this Saturday to persuade Ko to change his mind.
We have earlier reported that Ko is still observing a 12-month “cooling-off” period after his departure from government service last year, during which he is prohibited from accepting certain job offers or seeking public office.
However, his “cooling-off” period is due to expire on June 30, which means Ko might make up his mind and give his final answer after that.
Apart from Ko, the pro-establishment camp is also considering inviting other former senior government officials, including former Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung and former Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, to run in the by-election.
But after having taken everything into account, particularly the fact that voters in the Kowloon West constituency are predominantly grassroots, core members of the pro-establishment camp still want to stick with Ko, mainly because he has the common touch.
As for Scott Leung Man-kwong of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, he is quite keen on running for the seat, but the pro-Beijing camp maintains serious reservations about allowing him to run.
They are worried that they may find it difficult to convince other young and qualified hopefuls such as Dominic Lee Tsz-king of the Liberal Party to give way to Leung, which could lead to intense infighting among pro-establishment candidates and undermine their chances of beating the pan-dems.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 2
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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