Politics or career? It's a tough balancing act

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2011, 12:00am


Young candidates who lost in the last district council election are planning comebacks in November with high hopes for their political career and aspirations to serve the community.

But they might not continue the fight if they lose once more, they admitted, because of down-to-earth family demands and the pressure to find a long-term career.

'I will have to consider [quitting] very seriously,' said Lo Kin-hei, 27, who's running for the second time as a Democratic Party candidate in Lei Tung in Southern District. 'I have to be fair to my family.'

Lo started his political career soon after graduating with a social work degree from the University of Hong Kong, becoming the party's community officer in 2006.

He ran for the district council seat one year later, but lost to a non-affiliated incumbent Wong Che-ngai by a mere 27 votes.

He didn't expect to win in his first attempt. 'Some senior [members] of the party had told me to devote 10 years at least if I had set my sights on a career in politics,' he said.

Lo is challenging Wong again this year. He has geared up over the past four years by serving in the community as the party's community officer and writing newspaper articles on democratisation and other issues, like the security row over Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's recent visit.

Unlike many community officers who focus solely on local problems, Lo likes to grapple with city-wide matters. 'I don't want to limit myself to community-based issues. I want to find my own path to establish career in politics,' Lo said.

Will he continue in politics if he loses again in November?

'Maybe I will try again,' Lo said, 'But, taking my career prospect and livelihood into consideration, it will be difficult to serve the community full-time for four more years.'

Lo Chung-man, of the radical pan-democratic group People Power is also seeking the office.

Another young candidate, Jiff Yiu Ming of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, shares Lo's concerns.

At 21, Yiu was the youngest candidate in the last election. He's running again in Wah Do, North District, against Li Wing-shing, a Democrat, and Li Kai-hang of People Power.

Yiu, an assistant in a labour union, just met the minimum age requirement to run last time. Yiu said he had only a few months to prepare for the election last time and lost to a Democrat by about 800 votes.

'Considering that I had only campaigned for a few months and that constituency had been dominated by Democrats, I thought the result was not too bad and I decided to go on,' Yiu said.

However, he had once given up. Yiu worked for the party as a volunteer after the election, but in 2009 he quit volunteering for about three months because he needed a paying job to support his family. He soon returned to public service as an assistant to the party's lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan.

Yiu said it broadened his horizons, but paid less - about HK$10,000 a month - than positions in other fields requiring similar experience.

'I am not sure of the road ahead if I lose again this time,' Yiu said. 'I would not consider [politics] too much at the moment.'