Date
17 October 2018
Former health secretary Dr. Ko Wing-man (inset) is yet to make it clear as to whether he will run for a Legco seat in a by-election, despite facing pressure from the pro-Beijing camp. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ
Former health secretary Dr. Ko Wing-man (inset) is yet to make it clear as to whether he will run for a Legco seat in a by-election, despite facing pressure from the pro-Beijing camp. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ

Pro-Beijing camp puts pressure, but Ko bypoll run up in the air

As the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West constituency is less than five months away, leaders of the pro-establishment camp are said to have been working fervently in a bid to persuade former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man to join the contest.

Unfortunately, despite their persistent efforts, Ko, who has passed the official 12-month “cooling-off” period after his departure from the senior government post last year, is yet to announce his decision. 

According to sources in the political circles, over the past few days political heavyweights from Beijing’s liaison office, senior government officials and pro-establishment lawmakers have been putting intense pressure on Ko to take up candidacy for the upcoming by-election.

The most frequent justification they are pulling to convince Ko to run is that the remaining seat in Kowloon West is “decisive” because, if taken by the pro-establishment camp, it would allow members of the camp to maintain their advantage of having more than half of the geographical constituency seats in Legco.

Nevertheless, some in the pro-establishment camp who are close to Ko have suggested otherwise.

According to them, the successful amendment of the Legco Rules of Procedure has already rendered filibusters by the pan-democrats less effective, and that things have been going on pretty smoothly in the legislature since then.

Besides, since the “split voting system” adopted by Legco doesn’t apply to government bills, so it actually doesn’t really that matter as to whether or not the pro-establishment camp can continue to hold the majority of seats in the geographical constituencies.

Instead, they said the true reason why the pro-establishment camp have been so eagerly looking to Ko to enter the race is that they wanted to further their political gains after the surprising victory pulled off by Vincent Cheng Wing-shun, representing the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, in the by-election back in March.

In another perspective, it is said that it is not necessary for the 61-year-old Ko to put aside again his medical profession and interests in the profession. Still, he will have found himself caught up in an awkward and difficult position amid the “won’t quit” approach by the pro-establishment camp, if he eventually joins the by-election.

As to Scott Leung Man-kwong of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, who is said to be aggressively gearing up for the by-election, he told the media during a tea break on Wednesday that the pro-Beijing camp is currently staying put awaiting good news from Ko, so Leung has not formally planned for running in the by-election.

It is said that while the pro-establishment camp is still lobbying Ko to run, Beijing’s liaison office has so far refused to endorse Leung as the “Plan B” candidate, probably for fear that it might unnecessarily give him false hope.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 5

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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