22 April 2019
Oscar Lai says it’s too early for him to make a decision on joining the 2019 District Council race, given various uncertainties. Photo: HKEJ
Oscar Lai says it’s too early for him to make a decision on joining the 2019 District Council race, given various uncertainties. Photo: HKEJ

Ex-Demosistō vice-chair Oscar Lai seen eyeing chance in DC polls

Localist lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has been barred from running in a rural representative election in Yuen Long, with the returning officer saying that Chu’s answers, in response to some questions, “when viewed objectively, can be understood as implicitly confirming that he supports that independence could be an option for Hong Kong people”. 

Following the Chu case, the prevailing view among pan-democrats is that there could be another wave of massive disqualification of candidates in the District Council election next year.

However, despite the camp’s grim election outlook, some young post-Occupy movement activists who are former members of Demosistō, a group that advocates self-determination in Hong Kong, are said to be aggressively eying the 2019 DC race.

Among them is Oscar Lai Man-lok, Demosistō former vice-chair, who was recently seen, along with pan-democratic Kwun Tong District Councilor Choy Chak-hung, giving out free calendars bearing photos of the duo to residents in the local neighborhood.

According to sources in the district, Lai intends to run for the DC seat representing the newly established constituency of On Tat next year.

Gradually retiring from the forefront of the social activist movement in recent years, Lai is now a registered social worker.

In fact Lai was initially planning to run for Legislative Council on a Demosistō ticket back in 2016, only to have to abandon the election bid eventually due to lack of campaign funding.

Lai has declined to confirm if he is going to run in the DC race next year, but told us that when he withdrew from the Legco election in 2016, he promised that he would continue to serve the residents of East Kowloon.

He also stressed that he would very much like residents in East Kowloon to know that he no long carries his former “halo” but will start serving the community again from scratch.

Coming to the 2019 DC race, Lai said it is still too early for him to make any decision as to joining the contest, as there are a lot of uncertainties ahead.

Giving some examples, Lai referred to the case of Chu being barred from the rural representative election. Also, he said he fears that he could be among the next batch of Occupy movement activists to be arrested.

One might still remember that Lai’s former Demosistō partymate, Agnes Chow Ting, was banned by a returning officer from running in the Legco by-election in Hong Kong Island back in March this year.

Given that, Lai said it is very difficult to tell at this point whether he can secure his candidacy for the DC election next year.

Nevertheless, he reiterated that he will continue to serve the community, regardless of whether he finds the door open or shut for him in the DC election.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 8

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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