Date
12 December 2018
Lee Cheuk-yan responds to the result of the Kowloon West by-poll during a media appearance on Nov. 26. A changing political climate plus divisions and infighting within the pan-dems led to Lee's defeat, a political observer says. Photo: HKEJ
Lee Cheuk-yan responds to the result of the Kowloon West by-poll during a media appearance on Nov. 26. A changing political climate plus divisions and infighting within the pan-dems led to Lee's defeat, a political observer says. Photo: HKEJ

Two key reasons why Lee Cheuk-yan lost the by-election

In the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West geographical constituency last Sunday, Chan Hoi-yan, who was supported by the entire pro-establishment camp, took in 106,457 votes and defeated the opposition bloc’s main candidate, Lee Cheuk-yan, by a comfortable margin of 13,410.

In my view, there are two fundamental reasons why the opposition was on a losing streak in the two Legco by-polls this year. Also, the pan-dems’ continued electoral defeats can give us profound insight into the state of political affairs in the city.

Coming to Lee’s defeat, first of all I would attribute the loss to the fact that the political atmosphere in Hong Kong has seen a fundamental change in recent years.

After opposition candidate Edward Yiu Chung-yim was defeated by Vincent Cheng Wing-shun from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) in the Kowloon West by-election back in March this year, there were already some analyses suggesting that a major contributing factor to Cheng’s victory was the changing political climate in Hong Kong.

In particular, ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to Hong Kong and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor assumed office in July last year, the various sectors of society have been getting a better grasp of “one country, two systems” principle, and have become increasingly confident about the future of Hong Kong.

Under such a changing political environment, citizens are having higher expectations for economic development and improvements in their livelihoods, while getting increasingly fed up with political struggles and social rifts.

And that explains why the pro-establishment candidates’ election pledges placing livelihood and development first, with politics put aside, have struck a deep chord among the voters.

In contrast, the opposition, like always, has been objecting for the sake of objection, believing that political principles should always take precedence. There is growing view among people that such approach will only hold back the economic progress of Hong Kong.

Some may argue that one shouldn’t easily jump to conclusions based on the result of the by-election in March alone.

But now, given the fact that a pro-establishment candidate once again prevailed over the opposition rivals in the second Legco by-election this year is undoubtedly an unmistakable indication that mainstream public opinion is now on the side of the pro-establishment camp.

Second, I believe another reason why the pro-establishment candidates were able to stay on a winning streak is that they had the unanimous and whole-hearted support of their entire camp, which demonstrated unprecedented unity in both the March 11 and Nov. 25 by-elections.

Meanwhile, in stark contrast, the opposition has been plagued by intense divisions and infighting. Worse still, even old pan-democratic “comrades” belonging to the same end of the political spectrum were bitterly turning against each other.

How could the pan-dems hope to gain support from all the voters who are in the same range of the political spectrum when the pan-dems themselves were unable to agree with one another?

As a matter of fact, the main reason why Frederick Fung Kin-kee had ben so determined to run against his former opposition colleague Lee was because he was feeling highly indignant at the fact that the opposition leaders had repeatedly denied his rightful demand for a fair primary this time and, instead, allegedly hand-picked Lee to replace their “Plan A” candidate Lau Siu-lai after she was disqualified.

Not only did Fung’s demand for a primary fall on deaf ears, he was later also blackballed and smeared relentlessly by his former colleagues in a desperate effort to prevent him from running in the by-election.

For any political bloc to thrive, its leaders must enforce fairness, impartiality and equality among its members, or else it would only breed internal conflicts and divisions. And that is exactly what happened within the opposition.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 28

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Member of the Sham Shui Po District Council

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