Legislative Council elections 2016

Legco ‘super seat’ candidates discuss push for Hong Kong independence, chief executive race at election forum

The nine aspirants gather for first time this campaign season ahead of September 4 poll

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 1:33pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 2:53pm

The candidates running for Hong Kong’s legislative “super seats” might share different political views, but they share one thing in common: opposition to calls for the city to be independent.

The nine hopefuls vying to be elected to the five seats of the District Council (Second) functional constituency on September 4 made their stance clear at their first Legislative Council election forum, held by Commercial Radio on Sunday.

The three pro-establishment aspirants – Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions and Starry Lee Wai-king and Holden Chow Ho-ding of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – dismissed calls for independence as “irresponsible”and getting Hong Kong nowhere.

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But the six pan-democratic candidates –James To Kun-sun and Roy Kwong Chun-yu of the Democratic Party, Sumly Chan Yuen-sum of the Civic Party, Kalvin Ho Kai-ming of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihoods, Kwan Wing-yip of the NeoDemocrats, and Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre – focused their remarks on the person they claimed had spurred the independence movement: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

View: Legislative Council elections candidates for 2016

The six also argued Hongkongers’ rights and freedoms would have been well-protected had the “one country, two systems” principle been fully implemented.

Leung Yiu-chung said “nobody was talking about independence” when the city was led by Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, two former chief executives. Leung added Hongkongers felt they had no choice but to advocate independence as “one country, two systems” had been poorly applied.

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Meanwhile, recent remarks by outgoing Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing that he would not rule out running for the city’s top job appeared to give his allies political leeway at the forum.

Asked by fellow candidate Ho whether she would back the incumbent chief executive for a second term, Lee sidestepped the question, which had previously put pro-establishment politicians in a delicate position.

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“We are very happy to see that both Jasper Tsang and financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah have indicated their interest in the job,” she said. “It’s expected and reasonable for DAB to support Jasper Tsang, the party’s founding chairman, should he throw his hat into the ring.”

She then asked Ho whether he would back Jasper Tsang over Leung. The pan-democrat replied that his party was calling for a democratic electoral system.

In the 2012 Legco elections, pan-democrats secured three of the body’s five super seats. But many expect one seat this year could go to Beijing loyalists due to severe infighting among pan-democrats.