Every second counts for this candidate
One candidate in next month's District Council elections is not shy about boasting of his community-spirited achievement - even if it is only a matter of seconds.
In a banner posted next to a traffic light near Hoi Fu Court in Tai Kok Tsui, Yim Kwok-keung, of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, claims he successfully lobbied to have the 'walk' time at the intersection extended by three seconds to safeguard the safety of pedestrians.
Mr Yim, a solicitor, has registered as a candidate contesting the Fu Park constituency of Yau Tsim Mong District Council.
He said he appealed to the Transport Department in May for an extension of the duration of the green crossing light after receiving complaints from residents that the light switched to red too fast.
'Some elderly residents told me that they did not have sufficient time to cross the road.'
He said the Transport Department decided in June to extend the duration of the green light from 17 to 20 seconds after department officials, acting on his alert, inspected the traffic light with him.
In addition to the banner, he also planned to boast of the intersection achievement in his campaign leaflets, adding that it was just one of his works to help residents in his constituency.
Lai Chi-lap, the incumbent Yau Tsim Mong district councillor who represents Fu Park constituency, said: 'Some residents considered the traffic lights do not switch to red quick enough. [But] the traffic there is not that busy.'
Ma Ngok, an assistant professor of social science at the University of Science and Technology, said Mr Yim's keenness to promote his deeds indicated just how parochial grassroots politics was in Hong Kong. He also attributed the campaign to the small size of constituencies in District Council elections and fierce competition among candidates.
'There are just several thousand voters in a constituency,' he said. 'It's understandable that the candidates leave no stone unturned in their battlefield to boast their accomplishments.'
He said the public attention given to district councils had been declining with the introduction of direct election of the Legislative Council in the early 1990s.
'In the 1980s, the platform of many [district board candidates] touched upon broader issues such as democracy and social welfare.'