Last Thursday, ousted pro-democracy lawmaker Lau Siu-lai declared her candidacy for the upcoming Legislative Council by-election in Kowloon West scheduled for Nov. 25, and vowed that she would submit her application form to the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) on Oct. 2, the first day of the nomination period.
Meanwhile, there was talk that her likely pro-establishment rival, Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, former political assistant to Dr. Ko Wing-man when he was secretary for food and health, might also file her candidacy on Oct. 2 in order not to let Lau steal all the limelight.
However, when asked by media whether she is going to submit her application form to the REO on Oct. 2, Chan reiterated last Friday that no decision had been made yet. Nor did she comment on recent talk that several former senior government officials are going to campaign for her.
Then, on Tuesday this week, Chan finally told media that she is “seriously considering” joining the Kowloon West race.
Last week, Chan quit her position as “health ambassador” of the Kowloon Federation of Associations after assuming the position for more than a month. Some political observers said Chan apparently wanted to distance herself from the strong pro-Beijing group and her pro-establishment background.
On the other hand, a source in the pro-establishment camp has revealed that Chan has not only secured the endorsement of her former boss Ko, who has already agreed to campaign for her, but also the support of other former senior officials, including Ronald Chan Ngok-pang, former undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs.
However, another pro-establishment figure said it still remains very much unconfirmed at this point whether Ronald Chan would join Rebecca Chan’s campaign team, given his busy travel schedule.
The same source said even if Rebecca Chan would have former government officials campaign for her, it would be nothing more than political “packaging” intended to dilute her pro-Beijing image.
He said Rebecca Chan and Ko might be well-known to the public, but they have neither political connections on the local level nor a campaign machine of their own, not to mention that they are totally unfamiliar with what is actually going on in the constituencies across Kowloon West.
In order to win, Rebecca Chan will still have to rely heavily on pro-Beijing community organizations and pro-establishment parties to mobilize their support base to vote for her on Nov. 25.
As far as Lau Siu-lai is concerned, she has officially secured the approval of the Labour Party and will represent it in the by-election.
If she is barred from running again, then her partymate, Lee Cheuk-yan, the “Plan B” candidate of the pro-democracy camp, will take her place as planned.
In the meantime, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, former chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL), is also eyeing the by-election.
Earlier on, during a tea gathering with media representatives, Fung said that if Lau is disqualified by the government again, he may also consider joining the race and challenging Lee’s candidacy.
Minibuses bearing his eye-catching promotional ads are already all over the place in the past few days.
Even though these ads are not making an appeal for voters to support him in the by-election, everybody knows what such ads are truly intended for.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 22
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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