Date
13 November 2018
Lau Siu-lai's disqualification from the Legco by-election is likely to split the pan-dems' support base in Kowloon West, but will also add to the stress of the pro-establishment camp. Photo: Reuters
Lau Siu-lai's disqualification from the Legco by-election is likely to split the pan-dems' support base in Kowloon West, but will also add to the stress of the pro-establishment camp. Photo: Reuters

Lau Siu-lai disqualification doubles stress for pro-Beijing camp

The disqualification of ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai from running in the Legislative Council by-election in Kowloon West is expected to lead to infighting between two seasoned pan-democratic candidates – former Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan and former chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL) Frederick Fung Kin-kee.

This is expected to split the support base of the pan-dems and work in their pro-establishment rival Chan Hoi-yan’s favor.

However, instead of rejoicing over the development, it is said that members of the pro-establishment camp are actually ambivalent about Lau’s disqualification.

According to a pro-establishment figure, while Chan is now widely seen as having a higher chance of winning the race, failure is not an option for the camp, which means that it now feeling quite a lot of stress.

Furthermore, the source said, there is growing concern in the pro-establishment camp that if Chan beats the pan-dems and grabs the Legco seat, her victory may well turn into a headache for the camp.

The reason, according to this source, is that initially the pro-establishment camp only had two incumbents in Kowloon West – Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and Priscilla Leung Mei-fun representing the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.

But after Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the DAB defeated Edward Yiu Chung-yim in a by-election back in March this year, the pro-Beijing camp is now occupying three of the six seats in the Kowloon West geographical constituency.

Once Chan wins the by-election in Nov. 25, the number of pro-establishment lawmakers in the constituency will rise to four.

The problem is, if Chan decides to seek another term in the 2020 Legco election, that would mean four pro-Beijing candidates would be competing with one another in the race, thereby stretching the camp’s support base in Kowloon West.

In order to avoid intense infighting and prevent the pan-dems from fishing in troubled waters, it is inevitable that one of the pro-establishment incumbents will have to quit the 2020 race.

The pro-Beijing camp has reasonable grounds for having such concerns.

It will be recalled that Cheng only garnered 107,479 votes in the by-election in March, an indication that the vote total of the pro-establishment camp in Kowloon West has not seen any substantial increase since the 2016 election.

That said, an “invisible hand” may emerge to coordinate the pro-establishment candidacies in Kowloon West in the 2020 Legco race.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 13

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/CG

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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