Lesser-known candidates get boost after exit of big names
Tanna Chong and Emily Tsang
With three of its incumbent lawmakers leaving to fight the citywide 'super seats', the Kowloon West constituency will see veterans who missed out in the 2008 Legislative Council poll take on up-and-coming politicians looking to capitalise on the departure of their big names.
The Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching is in the former camp. She missed out by 2,655 votes last time, with Beijing loyalist Priscilla Leung Mei-fun pipping her to the fifth seat in the smallest of the five geographical constituencies.
'I think the voters look more to the people rather than the party when they cast their ballot. Surely it is an advantage for me when both James To [Kun-sun] and Frederick Fung [Kin-kee] left,' said Mo.
Fung of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and To of the Democratic Party will both fight for the 'super seat' - elected by a ballot of all those not eligible to vote in any other functional constituency. They will take on Starry Lee Wai-king, an executive councillor and a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, whose slate topped the poll last time.
Their defection has put a new twist on the race in the only geographical constituency not to secure extra seats in the aftermath of the electoral reform package approved in 2010.
Mo said her hopes were boosted by the departure of the three lawmakers and also of two candidates who won almost 24,000 votes between them despite being defeated in 2008; Liberal Michael Tien Puk-sun (who is running in New Territories West) and Lau Chin-shek. But the Democrats, the ADPL and the DAB are all fielding new faces.
Among the newcomers is Tam Kwok-kiu of the ADPL, who said his hopes of victory rested on advocating Fung's 'super seat' candidacy and hoping that his voters would also pick the ADPL in West Kowloon. 'We expect [People Power's] Wong Yuk-man will go after us during the campaign on politics, too. But our edge is on the livelihood issues,' Tam said, referring to the split among the pan-democrats over the reform package in 2010. While the ADPL and Democrats supported the package after the government agreed to the introduction of the 'super seats', Wong, whose slate finished second in West Kowloon last time, was among the camp who opposed the reforms and criticised moderate democrats for not pressing for a chamber elected entirely by universal suffrage.
Wong is fighting to retain his seat, as is Priscilla Leung.
Topping the list for the Democrats is Wong Pik-wan, while the presence of well-known education sector lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong as the second-ranking candidate on the slate could help her chances.
Wong is aiming to beat the 29,600 votes James To won four years ago and get Cheung elected too - which is likely to take 50,000 votes or more.
The top candidate on a slate is elected if their vote reaches a minimum quota, based on the number of votes cast and the number of seats available. The second candidate on a list is elected if the votes left over after the quota is deducted also reaches the quota. But most of those elected will not reach the quota and seats will be filled according to which slate has the next most votes.
'Traditionally, 60 per cent of eligible voters in Kowloon West are supporting pan-democrats,' Wong said. 'It is possible for us to get two seats if we can get 35 per cent of the votes.
'But it is going to be a tough war. If Cheung has to be elected, it means one in two pan-democrat voters has to vote for the Democratic Party.'
In 2008, three pan-democrats and two pro-establishment figures were elected in Kowloon West, a constituency stretching from Mei Foo in the west to Kowloon City in the east, and from Tsim Sha Tsui in the south to Kowloon Tong in the north.
While three of the five lawmakers elected last time were men, this year's poll may well see the female representation increase, with five of the nine lists headed by women.
No. of voters 437,967
Winners in 2008
Starry Lee Wai-king (DAB) 39,013
Wong Yuk-man (then League of Social Democrats, now People Power): 37,553
Frederick Fung Kin-kee (ADPL): 35,440
James To Kun-sun (DP): 29,690
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun (Independent/ Professional Forum): 19,914