Hong Kong Island contenders battle for every last vote

Canvassing continued late into the day, with pan-democrat and pro-establishment candidates both busy rallying their supporters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 4:20am

Incumbent lawmakers from the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps went head-to-head in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency showdown yesterday, with the Civic Party's Tanya Chan scrambling for the last seat against the more seasoned Liberal Party chairwoman, Miriam Lau Kin-yee.

Chan, second on her party's slate behind Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, was calling for 80,000 votes to ensure she gained the last seat ahead of her pro-government rival.

Her polling day bid kicked off early in the morning, with pan-democratic heavyweights, including former party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, restating their endorsement for her at a rally in Wan Chai.

Former chief secretary and legislator Anson Chan Fang On-sang said: "We knew about Tanya's track record over the past four years … we control our own fate, so don't give up your vote … vote for Kenneth and Tanya's team!"

The Civic Party's outgoing legal sector legislator, Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, also threw her weight behind Tanya Chan. Ng warned that if voters were complacent and did not vote, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration "may start doing whatever they want starting from Tuesday, because almost all pro-government legislators will allow the government to do so".

Anson Chan and Margaret Ng joined an excursion to Aberdeen, where Ng canvassed on the streets, while Anson Chan partnered with Tanya Chan and Kenneth Chan to visit five restaurants in Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau during lunch hour - shaking hands with families enjoying their dim sum. She also gave out "emergency call" leaflets, urging voters to make sure she got the numbers she needed.

Her campaign partner, Kenneth Chan, had no lack of enthusiastic support - not from political veterans, but from his four daughters - Monika, 15, Natalia, 13, and twins Maja and Kaja, 11 as well as his Polish wife, Gabriela. The girls attracted the attention of onlookers and restaurant-goers, who said they were beautiful. Chan said he brought his daughters to remind voters to think about their children's future before they voted.

One of Tanya Chan's key competitors for the last seat was Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee, who has served in the legislature since 1988.

But she is fresher than Chan in one way: it is her first fight in a geographical constituency.

Unfortunately she did not have her heavyweight supporter, former Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, around. "Rita was leaving Hong Kong today, although she should have cast her vote already," Lau said, while Fan's face beamed out from a banner behind her.

But Lau did not seem discouraged. She sounded increasingly confident as the day went on, finding "many [passers-by] show me support".

The Liberal politician, who has adopted glasses with an eye-catching white frame, kept telling islanders that she "dared say no" to the government.

But the local government was not her sole target yesterday - in her last-ditch effort to score votes she added fuel to the fire of unease felt towards the mainland.

"Patriotism is necessary, but I don't think love for a party is," Lau said, touching on the recent anti-national education rallies.

"Parties come and go."

Towards the evening, Tanya Chan issued another emergency call to voters in Sai Wan.

"My chances were increasing, but there were rumours that either me or [the Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan] could 'survive' - and voters must not listen to that," Chan said with a tearful voice.

"The pan-democrats had 180,000 votes in 2008 and I am only calling for 80,000 votes. If voters come out and vote for the one they truly support, we can secure the largest number of seats."

Cyd Ho was also in Ap Lei Chau yesterday afternoon to call for support. She admitted being worried about losing but had not put out an emergency call.

"I would only ask for more voters to vote - and please leave a space for Cyd in [the] Hong Kong Island [constituency]," she said.