Following their catastrophic defeat in the district council election, pro-establishment camp members have begun to worry about their political and personal futures.
While some of the losing candidates who have professional qualifications can get back to their own fields and move on, others, particularly those who had been serving as full-time DC members for years, may need to seek a career change.
The disastrous performance of the pro-Beijing camp on Nov. 24 has not only cost these former DC members their jobs, it will also deprive the camp of a chance to compete for the Legislative Council seat of the functional constituency of the District Council (first) in 2020.
And given the fact that a number of big-time “dual-office holders” (i.e. district councilors serving as lawmakers simultaneously) from the pro-Beijing camp have lost their DC seats, it calls into question whether the bloc can still hang on to its existing two seats in the functional constituency of the District Council (second), commonly known as “super seats”, in Legco in the 2020 election.
Amid the desperation of these pro-establishment DC race runners-up, there has been talk in the political circles that Beijing could consider awarding some of the defeated candidates seats on the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) as “consolation prizes”.
The reasoning, as per the chatter, is that Beijing would want to sustain the political life of those who have potential for staging a comeback in the coming Legco elections.
By giving them CPPCC titles, it can not only keep their political careers alive, it would also help the people maintain their media exposure and allow them to continue to weigh in on policy issues in an official capacity, sources said.
However, given the severe scarcity of these hotly sought-after national “consolation prizes”, of which there are only some 120 available, it is said that members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), particularly former “dual-office” holders who stand a substantial chance of getting re-elected in the 2020 Legco race, will be given priority by Beijing.
Among them, Holden Chow Ho-ding, the incumbent DAB deputy chairman who has lost in the DC election and is therefore no longer eligible to run for the functional constituencies representing the District Council (first) and District Council (second) in Legco, is widely tipped for one of these open CPPCC national committee membership slots, according to the talk circulating in the political circles.
That said, the pro-establishment DC race runners-up may have missed the boat, for now, for getting appointed to the CPPCC.
It is because even if they are lucky enough to be chosen, they may need to wait until 2023, when the current term of the national committee of the CPPCC is up.
That would be so, unless Beijing is willing to appoint new members to the body sometime before the end of the current term.
It is possible that such thing could, indeed, happen, going by an example in the recent past.
In the 2016 Legco race, Tony Tse Wai-chuen was defeated by his pan-democratic rival Edward Yiu Chung-yim in the contest for the seat in the functional constituency representing the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sectors.
Before he took back his seat from the pan-dems in the by-election last year after Yiu had been disqualified for failing to take his oath of office properly. Tse was earlier appointed a CPPCC member.
While we can’t rule out anything, we should however bear in mind the stark reality confronting the defeated candidates: a CPPCC title will, no doubt, come as an honor, but how many among them can realistically hope to gain such position, given that there are only around 120 places available in all.
All said and done, if the pro-establishment camp is to really have a solid chance to get back on its feet, what is needed is not just “consolation prizes” from Beijing, but instead, solid actions by the Hong Kong government to lift its credibility by addressing the grievances within society.
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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