Following the death of Yau Tsim Mong District Councilor Francis Chong Wing-charn, who belongs to the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPAHK), last month, the seat left vacant by him in the Tai Nan constituency needs to be filled.
According to routine procedures, it would take some four to six months to arrange for a District Council by-election. Therefore, it is expected that the Tai Nan by-poll will be held sometime before or after April next year.
Sources say that the BPAHK has planned to send its community officer in Tai Nan, Li Sze-man, to run for the seat left behind by the late Chong.
Meanwhile, up to this point, no other pro-establishment party has expressed intention to compete with the BPA in the race.
Chan Siu-tong, also a BPAHK member and an incumbent Yau Tsim Mong District Councilor, did not directly respond when asked about the matter. All he told us is that his party wouldn’t begin studying formally who is going to run until after Chong’s memorial service on Friday.
But he pointed out that the Tai Nan seat has remained firmly in the hands of the pro-establishment camp over the years. As such, he didn’t think the odds would be stacked against any pro-establishment candidate this time.
Now, as far as the pro-democracy camp is concerned, it is once again split over who is qualified and convincing enough to run for the seat in the Tai Nan constituency.
So far Lee Kwok-kuen of Community March, a post-Umbrella-Movement activist group co-founded by former Labour Party chairwoman Suzanne Wu Sui-shan, and Tommy Li from Synergy Kowloon, a localist-leaning group recommended by lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching to join the coordination mechanism, are both aggressively eying the by-election in Tai Nan.
Power for Democracy (PD), a group that is responsible for coordinating the campaign efforts of the pro-democracy camp, held a meeting on the issue of candidacy last week, but didn’t reach any decision.
Community March and Synergy Kowloon are both believed to be firm on the issue of joining the race and not giving way to others.
The PD is going to hold another meeting later to discuss the issue.
Lee Kwok-kuen of Community March told us that even though he has already secured a pretty steadfast support base in Tai Nan, he would respect the collective decision made by the PD.
Timothy Lee Hin-long, president of Synergy Kowloon, has made it clear that it would be nice if the pan-democratic camp can eventually find a candidate who stands the best chance of winning.
In the end, if the various factions in the camp cannot agree on a single candidate, Synergy Kowloon will file its own candidate, Lee added.
There has been infighting between two candidates in the past two DC Tai Nan constituency election. The intense infighting was seen particularly between the Democratic Party and the localist group Youngspiration in the 2015 DC election.
As a result, even though the non-pro-establishment camp grossed 52.4 percent of the total votes in that election, the late Chong of the BPAHK still succeeded in getting re-elected.
A person who is familiar with the localists told us that back in the 2015 DC race, the candidate representing Youngspiration took 20.3 percent of the votes in the Tai Nan constituency, suggesting that localist supporters are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
As for the pan-dems, that person said, in the Legislative Council by-election in Kowloon West on March 11 this year, Edward Yiu Chung-yim defeated Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) by over 200 votes in Tai Nan.
Nonetheless, in the recent Kowloon West by-poll on Nov. 25, pro-establishment candidate Chan Hoi-yan managed to turn the tables on the pan-dems and beat Lee Cheuk-yan by a razor-thin margin of just three votes.
The result indicates that pan-dem candidates with a grass-roots and labor image aren’t particularly appealing to voters in the Tai Nan constituency, who are seen as a largely middle-class group.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 1
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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