Artistic impressions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am


Artist Chow Chun-fai has finally thrown down the gauntlet (and his paint brushes) by announcing his candidacy for the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication Functional Constituency seat in Legco this September.

It's a move that some had seen coming ever since the award-winning painter started to spend less time in the studio and more time with the Factory Artists Concern Group, which was set up last year to protect the interests of artists who work in former industrial buildings.

In his manifesto, the 32-year-old Chow supports the abolishment of the functional constituency no later than 2020. After all, how can you have one person representing sports, performing arts, culture and publication? Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, who has held the seat for 14 years, has certainly proved you can't.

One reason why Chow has decided to enter politics is that he is fed up with Fok who, he believes, has failed to represent his constituencies. The Hong Kong Olympic Committee president is better known for his poor attendance record at Legco than doing anything remotely interesting or useful for Hong Kong arts. Word is that he may not run again this year, which leaves Chow competing with former Arts Development Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok, who has expressed interest but has yet to declare his candidacy.

Since his announcement, Chow has repeatedly said his chance of winning is slim. But given the current political climate - didn't we recently have a minister in the new government who resigned after just 12 days in office? - anything can happen. He just needs to lobby hard.

There are about 2,000 voters in this sector this year but judging from the two previous elections when Fok was challenged, in 1998 and 2004, only half of those eligible actually exercised their right to vote. And from that 1,000 or so voters, the margin between the two candidates was between 300 and 400 votes. Chow and his supporters hope a wider range of voters will show up in September to close that margin.

With discord among the 'pro-establishment' factions - who would probably vote for Ma, member of the National People's Congress member - it's hard to tell which way the votes are going to swing this time.

Chow's platform is clear if a bit too general. He is calling for a review of the registration system for eligible voters in the sector to ensure that every professional member in each of the four fields enjoys the right to vote; he is also calling for greater government support for long-term research and a stop to its 'extreme focus' on mega events.

He is young and full of passion for his art and profession, but I can also see Ma as the more politically savvy, experienced candidate. So may the best man win.