Five chosen few prepare to face the electorate
The bulk of Hong Kong's appointed district councillors appear to have no interest in running for elected office.
Only five of the 102 unelected councillors - whose seats will not be part of the November polls - have registered to contest elected seats.
Critics say that the tiny number reflects the appointed members' 'limited participation in the community'.
Of the five who have opted to face the electorate, the most prominent are Christine Fong Kwok-shan and Bunny Chan Chung-bun.
Appointed Sai Kung member Fong, who left the pro-business Liberal Party last year, will contest the Wan Po seat against Liberals' novice Terry Tsui Yun-yung and the Democratic Party's Cheung Chi-tung.
Chan, an appointed councillor in Kwun Tong since 1999 and currently council chairman, will run in Hip Hong against the League of Social Democrats' David Kan Sun-wa.
Earlier this month, the government said the 102 appointed district seats would be abolished in phases, which will leave only 68 in the next four-year term.
Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the small number of appointed councillors pursuing election reflected their lack of participation in district affairs.
'Many appointed district councillors see the seat as merely an honour and they have limited passion in community issues,' said Choy. 'When talking about elections, they would not have the confidence to win based on their daily performance.'
He said Fong was a relatively hard-working councillor, while Chan - chairman for the Commission on Youth - had been government- groomed to be a representative of youth work.
The other three appointed district councillors will contest in Sham Shui Po District.
As the nomination period closed on Wednesday, a record-high 935 people registered for a total of 412 seats. The number of uncontested seats also hit a record, with 73 constituencies receiving only one nomination, compared with 41 in the last district polls in 2007. The pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong emerged as the biggest winner, walking directly into 35 seats.
The reason heavyweights are registering in the elections is because there will be five 'super seats' in the Legislative Council's functional constituency representing district councils. Elected district councillors will next year vote on these seats.
Infighting among pan-democrats was also unprecedented. Democrat chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan is facing a challenge from his former party colleague Albert Chan Wai-yip, now a People Power lawmaker who is at odds with Ho over the Democrats' compromise in last year's electoral reform bill vote. Ho, an incumbent of Lok Tsui, Tuen Mun, also faces Shum Kam-tim, a self-proclaimed independent.
In Lai Wah, Kwai Tsing, Democrat lawmaker Lee Wing-tat will run against People Power's Raymond Chan Chi-chuen - a media host widely known as 'Slow Beat' - and Chu Lai-ling of the DAB.