History looks set to repeat itself in Kowloon West Legco election

Experts predict that the race for the six Legco seats in the constituency will be won mainly by incumbent lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 August, 2016, 8:01am

If the results of the last election are any indication, the race for the six Legislative Council seats of the Kowloon West constituency will be relatively simple.

At least five are regarded as “safe seats” in which, according to some observers, the incumbent lawmakers are almost sure to be re-elected.

The only uncertainty seems to be who will win the new seat added to the constituency at the expense of Hong Kong Island, ­because of population change.

Observers say competition for the sixth seat will be between localist candidate Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration and veteran pan-democrat Tam Kwok-kiu of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood.

There are 15 lists featuring a total of 37 candidates contesting the constituency.

With 488,129 voters, the Kowloon West constituency comprises Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, and Kowloon City districts. Sham Shui Po, one of the poorest districts in the city, is the stronghold of Tam’s party, which claims to work for grassroots families.

And Mong Kok, the scene of a riot in February following a ­crackdown on ­illegal street food hawkers and one of the main sites of the 2014 Occupy Central ­protests, is thought to have a huge localist population.

In terms of the number of ­electors, Kowloon West is the smallest of the five geographical constituencies.

The five incumbent legislators are Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party, Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic ­Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, non-affiliated Wong Yuk-man, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of the Business and Professionals Alliance, and Claudia Mo Man-ching of the Civic Party. All are seeking another term.

If there had been a sixth seat in the 2012 election, Tam, who ­netted the sixth most votes, would have won a seat.

In that election, a total of 232,081 residents in the constituency voted, a turnout rate of 54 per cent, and the five winning candidates collected 83.8 per cent of the votes.

If the votes cast for Tam were also counted, the first six candidates pocketed about 97 per cent of the ballots cast.

“There does not seem to be a significant change in the profiles of voters over the years. It is pretty likely the five old names will get re-elected,” Dr James Sung Lap-kung, a political scientist at City University, said.

Although it is generally ­believed that Yau may win much support from young voters, Sung said she should also try to win over the older generation.

Data released by the Electoral Affairs Commission shows only about 14.8 per cent of voters in the constituency concerned are aged between 18 and 30.

Some 22.6 per cent are aged between 31 and 45, with the rest, 62.5 per cent, older than 45.

Analysis by political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung of Chinese University seems to add weight to the observations of Sung.

Based on the data of the 2015 district council elections, the overall turnout rate of those aged between 18 and 30 was 35.7 per cent, while that for those 61 or above was 54.3 per cent.

In the Kowloon West constituency, only 10.8 per cent of the ballots cast in the district council elections were by voters aged 18 to 30, according to analysis by Choy.

As for the only centrist candidate in the constituency, Tik Chi-yuen, from the middle-of-the-road political party Third Side, observers say they do not have high hopes for him.

“The former Democrat has given people an impression that he is now pro-establishment in disguise more than a genuine centrist,” Dr Chung Kim-wah of Polytechnic University said.

Chung was referring to recent media reports that one of Tik’s election partners is from the pro-government Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions.