Following their defeat in the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West constituency, pan-democrats on Monday apologized to supporters and vowed to reflect on why voters rejected them for the second time this year in a seat that had been an opposition stronghold in the past.
At a press conference, representatives of various pro-democracy parties bowed in unison, saying they were sorry for letting down their supporters with the poor showing in Sunday’s election.
Acknowledging that they came up short, the pan-democrats said they will examine the possible reasons for the negative election result, and take measures to win back voters’ trust.
As part of the review, they promised to listen to the public, taking in various views and see if the opposition groups need to make some course correction or alter their strategy.
Steps will be taken to ensure that the camp gains backing from more people in future elections, the opposition representatives said.
A total of 13 representatives dispatched by different pro-democracy parties appeared before the media on Monday, saddened after their principal candidate, Lee Cheuk-yan, was trounced by his pro-establishment rival in the by-election for the Kowloon West geographical constituency.
Lee, a former lawmaker who replaced Lau Siu-lai as the candidate for the pan-democratic camp after the latter was disqualified, came in second in the by-election, bested by the establishment-backed rival Chan Hoi-yan.
Lee garnered 93,047 votes in the race, falling 13,410 votes behind Chan, sending pan-democrats reeling with shock and dismay.
Another independent pro-democracy candidate, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, the former chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, got 12,509 votes.
It meant that even if the votes of Lee and Fung were combined, Chan was still ahead in the race.
The loss was especially painful as it marked the second time this year that the opposition camp suffered a reverse in the same seat, after an earlier debacle in March.
At the press conference, Lee said the biggest awakening for the pan-democratic camp in this by-election was that many people no longer had the same passion to stand side by side with it as they did before.
Following Sunday’s election outcome, the camp needs to reflect on that fact and take some corrective measures, he said.
Lee said he hopes the pan-democratic camp will engage more with localist groups, but declined to comment on any electoral strategies going forward.
Following the setback Sunday, Lee has decided that he will not run in the next Legislative Council election in 2020.
In a joint statement, 24 incumbent lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp expressed their sadness over the election defeat and offered an apology, saying they had failed to make enough voters overcome their sense of futility about political change.
Admitting that he by-election result was traumatic for her camp, lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting, vowed that opposition lawmakers are not going to give up their fight, RTHK reported.
Mo insisted that the level of solidarity in the camp is now unprecedentedly high.
As the votes received by the pan-democratic camp in Sunday’s by-election were fewer in number than the more than 20,000 votes garnered in the 2016 Legco election by localist Yau Wai-ching, who was stripped of her seat later for improper oath-taking in October that year, Mo admitted with a sigh that her camp needs to do more to win over some of Yau’s voters.
The pan-democrats’ efforts to lure votes were no match for the coordinated campaign machinery of the pro-Beijing camp, Mo acknowledged.
Following the Kowloon West contest, Hong Kong could see another Legco by-election in the near future, for the seat in the New Territories East geographical constituency that had been held by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.
Leung was also disqualified last year, like Lau Siu-lai before him, but he has filed an appeal.
Leung said at the press conference Monday that the Court of Appeal will begin to hear his case on Wednesday, and that he is prepared to join a by-election, if there is one, for the seat he lost.
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