Beijing loyalists look to make gains in New Territories West constituency

The fifth in our series on the Legco geographical constituencies highlights New Territories West, where pan-democrats currently have five seats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 5:59am

The pro-establishment camp is on a mission to narrow the gap on their political rivals in New Territories West, a constituency where pan-democrat lawmakers currently outnumber Beijing loyalists by five to three.

Sixteen slates - eight pan-democrat, six pro-establishment and two independent - are contesting nine seats in the largest constituency in terms of size and number of voters. It was represented by eight legislators last term.

Opinion polls show all five lawmakers seeking re-election - four pan-democrats and a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - are likely to succeed in defending their seats.

Whether the three seats vacated by incumbents - Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan, the DAB's Cheung Hok-ming and Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) - can go to their anointed successors remains to be seen.

The latest polls put the slates led by Democrat Josephine Chan Shu-ying, the DAB's Leung Che-cheung and the FTU's Alice Mak Mei-kuen ranked seventh or below.

In contrast, New People's Party vice-chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun, who parachuted into the constituency with pledges to monitor transport fares and fight for free textbooks for students, is ranked fourth.

Unlike in the election four years ago, the DAB is fielding three separate slates instead of one single list in a bid to snap up more seats. Last time it held two seats in the area when chairman Tam Yiu-chung's eight-candidate slate won 92,037 votes, or 23.1 per cent of the 398,292 votes cast.

Opinion polls show that Tam's ticket has enough support to hold on to two seats, but the party's two other slates - headed by Leung and Ben Chan Han-pan - may struggle to secure another.

"There are sufficient pro-DAB votes, but many of our supporters have not realised that Tam looks set to have more than enough votes to win, and they can cast their ballots for the other DAB slates," Leung said. "I am not certain to win. I will try my best."

The top candidate on a slate is elected if they get a minimum quota of votes, based on the number of seats available. The second candidate on a list is elected if the votes left over after the quota is deducted also reaches the quota. But most of those elected will not reach the quota, and seats will be filled according to which slate has the next most votes.

In the case of New Territories West, any slate with at least 11.1 per cent of the vote will win a seat, followed by those with the next largest percentage of votes.

Assuming that the turnout rate is around 42 per cent, as in 2008, a slate that wins at least 46,000 votes on September 9 will bag a seat.

Those securing more than 33,000 votes, or around 8 per cent, also had a good chance of taking the eighth or ninth seat, Tien estimated.

Seeking the seat vacated by Wong, Mak is playing up the FTU's track record of "having served workers for some 60 years" in a bid to stand out from the many pro-establishment contenders for the extra seat in New Territories West.

Wong's eight-member list won 35,991 votes, or nine per cent of the votes, in 2008.

In the pan-democratic camp, Chan said she was aiming for a repeat of the 46,833 votes cast for the two lists headed by her party chairman, Albert Ho, and then secretary-general Cheung Yin-tung in the previous election.

"I will make my utmost efforts to appeal to those voters who supported the two lists in the previous election. But of course, some of them might have moved to other constituencies," she said.

Chan also said her fellow Democrat, incumbent Lee Wing-tat, was not secure enough against keen competition from the Civic Party.

"The Civic Party only fields one slate in the New Territories West, while our votes will be split into two lists," she said.

Polls showed Dr Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party was likely to win a seat, his bid will be boosted by the presence of Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who is in second place on his list.

Other slates in the constituency include incumbents Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Yiu-chung and Albert Chan Wai-yip.

Other candidates include Tsang Kin-shing, Mak Ip-sing, Chan Keung, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu and Chan Yut-wah.





Eligible voters 987,330 (up from 943,161 in 2008)

Voter turnout rate in 2008 42.49 per cent

Number of seats 9 (up from 8 in 2008)

Winners in 2008
Tam Yiu-chung* and Cheung Hok-ming: 92,037 votes (23.1 per cent of votes) – winning two seats
Lee Wing-tat*: 45,767 votes (11.5 per cent)
Leung Yiu-chung*: 42,441 votes (10.7 per cent)
Lee Cheuk-yan*: 42,366 votes (10.6 per cent)
Albert Ho Chun-yan**: 36,764 votes (9.2 per cent)
Wong Kwok-hing**: 35,991 votes (9 per cent)
Albert Chan Wai-yip*: 32,182 votes (8 per cent)


* Seeking re-election
** Seeking re-election in another constituency