As various political groups prepare for the District Council elections, which are due in November this year, there has been a lot of talk recently that Lester Shum Ngo-fai, former deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and a key Occupy Movement activist, may be planning to enter the race.
There is speculation that Shum may be eyeing a seat representing the Hoi Bun constituency of the Tsuen Wan District Council.
If that indeed becomes a reality, the former student leader will have to take on a very tough rival, Chow Ping-tim, who has been holding the Hoi Bun DC seat continuously since 1991.
Besides, it is understood that Marcus Mok Yuen-kwan, assistant of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker and Tsuen Wan District Councilor Ben Chan Han-pan, is also looking to compete for the Hoi Bun seat.
If that happens, Shum will have to go head to head with two opponents at the same time in the November race.
Meanwhile, as a member on the campaign team of pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, there is talk that Shum is a potential “Plan B” candidate for Chu in the 2020 Legislative Council election if the latter is barred from running.
There is indeed basis for such speculation as Chu is believed to be at the risk of seeing his candidacy, if he does decide to contest, get rejected by election authorities due to his political stance.
Last year, Chu was banned from running in a rural representative election by the returning officer. Chu’s answers to questions regarding his stance toward Hong Kong’s political future, “when viewed objectively, can be understood as implicitly confirming that he supports that independence could be an option for Hong Kong people,” according to the notice of decision by the returning officer, as he barred Chu from the race.
Given that, it is predicted among the political circles that Chu is likely to be banned from seeking re-election in the 2020 Legco race, which explains why he has to start looking for a “Plan B” candidate right now in case that worst-case scenario takes place.
At present, Shum and former HKFS secretary general Eddie Chan Shu-fai are both likely to be on top of Chu’s list of potential “Plan B” candidates given their relative public recognition.
However, both Shum and Chu have told us that they are currently staying focused entirely on the DC election at this point, and that it is too early to think about the arrangement for the 2020 Legco race.
Now, we must remember that it isn’t the first time that there has been talk that Shum is interested in running for Legco. Ahead of the Legco by-election for Kowloon West in March last year, there had been chatter that Shum could serve as pan-democratic contender Edward Yiu Chung-yim’s “Plan B” candidate.
There was also talk, at one point, that Council Front lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching intended to pick Shum as her successor.
Shum, however, had denied both those claims.
Coming to the 2020 Legco contest, a source has told us that Yiu, a former pan-democratic lawmaker who had represented the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector in the Legco functional constituency and who lost the March 11, 2018 by-election by a razor-thin margin, is also on Chu’s “Plan B” list this time.
Nevertheless, Yiu, who has claimed to be now holding a paid position in Chu’s office, said the only thing he is focusing on at this stage is to campaign for his teammates in the upcoming DC election.
As such, people shouldn’t be wasting their time speculating as to whether he is on Chu’s “Plan B” list or not, Yiu said.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 23
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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