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Hong Kong district council elections 2015

Beauty and the ballot: the former queens who would be councillors

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 November, 2015, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 November, 2015, 5:46pm

Three former beauty queens have today taken on a different contest, competing in the district council elections and hoping to find an electorate who will judge them on something more than just their good looks.

People Power chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming is taking on the South Horizons West constituency for a second time, after losing by 940 votes to the incumbent Judy Chan Ka-pui, from the New People’s Party in last year’s by-election for the seat vacated by Andrew Fung Wai-kwong.

Yuen, 35, said her party has been campaigning harder than her opponent despite their campaign having much fewer volunteers.

“Now the challenge is whether moderate pan-democrats will focus all of their votes on me, because if that’s case, there’s a chance of winning,” she said. “But if they’re not voting, and the turnout rate gets lower than last year, I will lose.”

Meanwhile, Chan, 35, is confident that she will win a second term. But she has voiced concerns of pressure in competing against stardom.

“I am confident. I am confident,” Chan said. “But of course there is pressure coming from political stars. People in the district may know me, but stars will always attract people’s eyeballs.”

At Aberdeen, Pauline Yam Po-lam, 41, from Miss Hong Kong Pageant of 1997, is seen waving and shaking hands to passersby.

She is competing against Civic Party member Zico Man Ho-keung, 52, and independents Lee Kit-hing, 64, and Ho Wai-chun, 32, after the incumbent councillor Vincent Wong Ling-sun dropped out of the race.

The Harvard graduate said she considered candidacy in the light of political events that shook the city last year, and described the council as “a good first step for people who want to contribute to society”.

Asked how her past as a Miss Hong Kong finalist affected her election campaign, she replied that it has, to a certain extent, helped people remember her.

“Among the many Miss Hong Kongs in past years, I am certainly not the most beautiful. People probably remembered me because of my education,” she said.

“To a certain extent, this helped. But only in a superficial level — people would remember me ... I saved the strength needed to brainstorm ways for people to remember me.”

But she said, ultimately, it takes practical work in the neighborhood to secure votes, adding there are challenges from opponents who are long time residents in Aberdeen, while she lived five minutes away in Wong Chuk Hang.

Among them is 35-year resident Lee, who has served the owners’ corporation of three buildings at Aberdeen Centre in the past 21 years.

“This is not a beauty pageant,” he said. “We are here to elect capable people. Today is a district council election, not a beauty contest.”

Civic Party’s Man has also indicated that he was born and raised in Aberdeen, but he admitted there are challenges in facing Yam.

“It’s common for people to set their eyes on Miss Yam,” he said. “I believe Miss Yam certainly has advantages in fame, manpower and resources but I believe ... if turnouts are high, the Civic Party definitely stands a chance in winning.”

Uny Chiu Chit-ue, 28 and the third former beauty queen joining this year District Council elections, is standing as an independent candidate in the Tsing Yi Estate constituency on Kwai Tsing District.

“I have learned a lot from this election: both the good sides and bad sides, said Chiu, who was the winner of the Hong Kong division of the Miss China pageant in 2010.

Saying she is “half confident” about the outcome of the election, Chiu said people in the neighbourhood had given her positive support not just because of her good looks.

“They say I am very hardworking,” said Chiu.

Her opponents, all of whom are running as independents, are incumbent Simon Chan Siu-man, Elaine Cheng Hiu-ling, and Yu Lap-on.

Despite the competiton, Chan said he is not afraid.

“I have served in the neighborhood for 24 years,” said. “It’s good to have more young people joining politics. But, experience working in the neighbourhood matters the most.”

Rex Lee, 43 and his wife Gally Lai, 34, voted in the district election in Tsing Yi for the first time this year.

“After Occupy Central, I didn’t want to vote for the pan-democrats so that is why I register to vote,” said Lai, who insisted the track record of the candidates matters the most to her.

When asked whether the participation of a former beauty queen in the election has affected her voting decision, Lai said: “Looks also matters a lot.”