Unionists strengthen hand with extra seat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2008, 12:00am

Unionists will have a stronger voice in the Legislative Council after the Federation of Trade Unions gained an additional seat.

Having fielded a record 15 candidates, the Beijing-friendly labour group won four seats in the poll, compared with three in 2004.

Wong Kwok-hing, who switched from the labour functional constituency to New Territories West, secured the seventh seat in the most hotly contested direct election battleground after a close fight with the League of Social Democrats' Albert Chan Wai-yip and the Civic Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung. Mr Chan won the eighth seat, while Dr Cheung was defeated.

'I feel very emotional. We originally expected to fight for the marginal seat as our campaign was in crisis,' Mr Wong said.

FTU chairman Wong Kwok-kin will be a new face in Legco after winning in Kowloon East, after veteran lawmaker Chan Yuen-han took a back seat and ran as the second candidate after him. 'I think our result is related to sister Han's service in Kowloon East for more than 10 years,' he said.

Two other federation members, Pan Pey-chyou and Ip Wai-ming, were elected uncontested in the three-seat labour functional constituency.

The Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions each retained one seat, with Lee Cheuk-yan and Li Fung-ying being re-elected.

Political scientist Ma Ngok, of Chinese University, predicted that the government would face more pressure on controversial livelihood issues such as legislation on a minimum wage and a competition law, as the FTU and the League of Social Democrats, both representing grass-roots voices, had a bigger say in the legislature.