DAB's Ip sees tough fight at the ballot box

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2008, 12:00am

Ip Kwok-him, the DAB vice-chairman whose likely candidacy for the Legco seat representing district councils has sparked a row with fellow government ally the Heung Yee Kuk, is expecting stiff opposition at the ballot box.

The pan-democratic camp, which is not fielding a candidate and which has nearly a quarter of the votes in the constituency, could have a big say in the outcome.

Mr Ip, a Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong veteran, could find himself up against a candidate backed by the kuk, the Liberal Party and pan-democrats in his fight for the seat, for which 428 elected and ex officio district councillors may vote.

'Judging from political ideologies, [pan-democrats] won't back us,' Mr Ip said yesterday. Still, he was confident the votes of DAB councillors and their allies would be enough for him to win. He plans to submit his nomination for the contest tomorrow.

The kuk, which represents traditional New Territories interests, has called a special general meeting today to decide its candidates for functional constituencies.

Its chairman, Lau Wong-fat, is the incumbent district council representative in Legco. He had been expected to stand for re-election for the seat, but has said he will make way for Mr Ip and will contest the Heung Yee Kuk functional constituency instead. That has angered many in the kuk.

A source from the kuk said vice-chairman Daniel Lam Wai-keung and North District Council member Chris Yip Yiu-shing - who is not a kuk member but whom the kuk might support - were possible candidates for the district councils seat.

The source said the kuk had the support of the Liberal Party and hoped to secure pan-democrat support. A candidate backed by all three might get 200 votes, the source said.

Frederick Fung Kin-kee, former chairman of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said the association had not yet decided who to support. But he said Mr Lau was more open than Mr Ip to talks with pan-democrats.

'Ip Kwok-him never had much to say to us,' Mr Fung said.

Li Gang , deputy director of the central government's liaison office, responded yesterday to a claim by medical sector lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki that the office had stopped people nominating him for re-election. Mr Li said he had not heard of such an incident and that the office never interfered in Hong Kong elections.