Legco candidate spent HK$5 million on election - and lost

A big budget was no guarantee of victory in Legco elections, figures show

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 4:43am

Spending a lot of money will not always guarantee victory in Legislative Council election.

During the election in September, one candidate spent as little as HK$35,000 and won a seat, while another spent almost HK$5 million and won nothing, figures released yesterday show.

Candidates were required to submit their campaign expenditures and the details are now available for public scrutiny.

Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, who won the financial services constituency with 208 votes - a margin of six votes, spent only HK$34,962 on his campaign. His rival, Vincent Lee Kwan-ho, spent just a little more - HK$37,645.

Tang Yu-lap, another candidate in the sector, spent HK$124,616 during his campaign - two-thirds of which was on advertisements printed in three Chinese newspapers. But Cheung received only 24 votes - each worth HK$5,192.

Things were very different for those contesting the "super seats" in the new district council (second) functional constituency. These involved a city-wide ballot of 3.2 million voters, who were ineligible to vote in other functional constituencies.

Lau Kong-wah, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, lost despite spending HK$4.9 million. He had spent a large amount on advertisements in the final weeks before polling day on September 9. But it was all for nothing.

Fellow party member Starry Lee Wai-king spent less than HK$4.4 million and won a "super seat". While the remaining five "super seats" candidates spent more than HK$2.5 million each, Lau was probably the biggest spender in Legco election history.

He received 199,732 votes - meanhing each cost HK$25. Fortunately for him, his election expenses were covered by his party.

Few independent candidates could fully recoup their expenses. But Tony Tse Wai-chuen, of the architectural, surveying and planning sector, was a notable exception.

He spent HK$291,671 on his campaign, while receiving HK$320,000 donations from seven people. Albert Yeung Sau-shing, founder of Emperor Group and a former employer of Tse, donated HK$100,000.

The government has pledged to offer financial assistance to those who won more than five per cent of the valid votes cast. The amount would be calculated by HK$12 per vote - or half of their declared election expenses - whichever is lower.