Independents plan offbeat exploits to wow voters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:03pm


Hong Kong should prepare itself for some raucous election action next month as the independent candidates vow to steal the limelight from their better-known political competitors in the race for Legco seats.

But the candidates stressed their unconventional campaign tactics were not frivolous, and were intended to draw attention to social issues using limited resources and time.

The biggest field yet of 287 candidates has been confirmed to contest the September 9 Legco election, 216 of those - on 67 slates - will battle for 35 directly elected seats in five geographical constituencies. Sixteen slates of candidates claim they do not have political affiliation.

According to electoral regulations, each list of candidates must be given equal time during the digital media debates to present its election platform.

This could mean that each slate of candidates in New Territories East - where the most intense race takes place with 19 slates running for nine seats - would share only about three minutes in a one-hour debate.

Pong Yat-ming, an activist against 'tycoon hegemony' who will contest the New Territories East constituency said it would be good for democratic development to have more aspirants contesting the election, but inevitably each candidate would have a shorter time in debates.

He said he may use performing arts during the televised debate to express his messages - but declined to reveal more details because he wanted to preserve the 'wow effect' for his audiences.

'Independents should not rely on traditional media or conventional means in the election campaigns, we need to think out of the box to find alternatives,' Pong said.

'But whatever I do, it will remain decent and not give an impression that I am juggling.'

Another independent, Matthew Ho Kar-tai, is nicknamed 'Whatever Man' for waving an eye-catching protest banner behind TVB reporters during a live broadcast about the station's alleged self-censorship on politically sensitive issues. He said he would wave the same banner during the televised debate.

'TVB never responded to my complaints, I want to make the complaint directly on their programmes,' said Ho, who is running in the Hong Kong Island constituency. During a Legco by-election in 2007 for the Hong Kong Island seat vacated by then-lawmaker Ma Lik, a solicitor, Jimmy Siu See-kong, and his team performed their 'rice bowl dance' during a televised debate.

Siu hoped to win more than 10,000 votes - but he scored just 613 votes. Siu will be contesting the sports, performing arts, culture and publication functional constituency this year with Ma Fung-kwok and Chow Chun-fai.

An independent candidate running in Kowloon West constituency, Wong Yat-yuk - also a Wong Tai Sin district councillor - rejected the use of stunts. 'I reject the idea because I am afraid the voters might find it odd or it might deliver the wrong message that I am trying to please the public with claptrap,' Wong said.