Date
23 September 2018
Lau Siu-lai (inset), who has signaled her aim to join a November Legco by-election, has suggested that it doesn’t really matter who the pro-establishment camp will put as their candidate against her. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ
Lau Siu-lai (inset), who has signaled her aim to join a November Legco by-election, has suggested that it doesn’t really matter who the pro-establishment camp will put as their candidate against her. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ

Why Lau Siu-lai can’t dismiss ‘personal dimension’ in bypoll

Responding to news that former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man isn’t going to run in the upcoming Legislative Council by-election scheduled for Nov. 25, Lau Siu-lai, the ousted pro-democracy lawmaker who has signaled her aim to join the race, has said it doesn’t really matter who the pro-establishment camp will put up as their candidate against her.

It is because, as she has put it, at the end of the day, what the democracy camp is truly up against is the entire election campaign machine run by Beijing, rather than any single individual rival.

However, her comments have raised some eyebrows among the pan-democrats.

A pan-dem who is familiar with the situation in Kowloon West says Lau might be right about it to some extent, but warned that her “I’m not bothered” attitude could derail her campaign.

It is because, as the person explained, Lau and her “Plan B” candidate Lee Cheuk-yan could risk repeating the same mistakes made by Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who lost the by-election back in March to pro-establishment rookie Vincent Cheng Wing-shun by a razor-thin margin, if they continue to neglect the “personal dimension” in political elections.

The pan-dem went on to note that by examining the vote totals and voter demographics of the March 11 race, it had been found that Yiu lost votes to Cheng in small constituencies like Tak Long, Kai Ching, Fu Cheong and Shek Kip Mei Estate, where the pro-democracy camp lacks local connections and representatives.

A crucial factor had been whether a candidate had paid visits and reached out to the voters there in person, the person noted.

As far as new housing estates in Kowloon West which have remained “unexplored” by both the pan-dems and the pro-establishment camp are concerned, Cheng was able to beat Yiu in the by-election in March largely because of his uplifting image and approachability.

As such, the pan-dem said the most urgent task lying before the pro-democracy camp right now is to take back the lost votes in these “unexplored” constituencies.

As to whether Beijing’s futile efforts to talk Ko into running is good news or not, another pan-democrat said it would certainly work in the favor of both Lau and Lee. Ko’s announcement that he will not join the by-election will reduce the pressure on the opposition bloc candidates.

That said, he pointed out that it is now only early August, and one should never underestimate the capabilities of the pro-establishment camp to drum up support for any particular candidate once its election campaign machine starts firing on all cylinders.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 6

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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