No contest: six newcomers running unopposed in Hong Kong elections
Most represent trade and professional sectors with relatively few members – but they say they will work just as hard in Legco as their elected counterparts
While hundreds of hopefuls are preparing for Legislative Council election battles in a month’s time, 12 candidates are set to be returned uncontested in the functional constituencies.
They include six new faces from five constituencies: Edward Lau Kwok-fan (District Council First), Jimmy Ng Wing-ka (Industrial Second), Ronick Chan Chun-ying (Finance), Kenneth Lau Ip-keung (Heung Yee Kuk), and Michael Luk Chung-hung and Jonathan Ho Kai-ming (Labour).
While the new faces pledged to work as hard as their elected counterparts on a range of issues, the lack of competition in their constituencies was in sharp contrast to the record number of 153 candidate lists, including 64 candidates for 35 functional seats, that were submitted for September’s polls – the last showdown between the rival blocs before the chief executive election in March.
Most of the uncontested constituencies have relatively small electorates, including some dominated by corporate voters.
For example, only 769 corporate voting members of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association are eligible to vote in Industrial (Second), and just 431 district councillors can vote in District Council (First).
But Edward Lau, 35, whose lawmaker status was expected to be confirmed in the gazette on Friday, dismissed critics’ claims that politicians like him lacked public recognition.
“No vote didn’t mean no effort,” he said. “I spent years cultivating relationships among district councillors, and pan-democrats could have sent someone to challenge me.”
Lau is a Northern district councillor from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest party in district councils and Legco.
Lau told the Post that his main goal in Legco would be to fight for more power and allowances for district councillors.
“I will push for a review of district councillors’ roles ... because our jobs concern residents’ daily lives. For example, the government hired companies to help with street cleaning. District councillors should have more say on the renewal of those companies’ contracts,” Lau said.
Two rising stars from the Federation of Trade Unions, Jonathan Ho Kai-ming, 31, and Michael Luk Chung-hung, 38, are district councillors in Kwun Tong and Yuen Long respectively.
Luk said that as labour representatives they would focus on pressing the government to improve working conditions.
“I hope officials will accept our demands, such as to legislate on standard working hours,” Luk said.
“I hope to talk to some open-minded business representatives ... and that they will understand our ideas. I think it is win-win for society to have better working conditions.”
Chinese Manufacturers’ Association vice-president Jimmy Ng, a 47-year-old lawyer who owns machinery factories on mainland China, said he would “look forward to listening to [Luk and Ho] on how that win-win situation can be achieved”.
“We believe that Hong Kong needs a good business environment to encourage economic progress, and then the government will be capable of taking care of the labour sector’s demands,” he added.
Referring to Beijing’s trade and development strategy, which spans Central Asia and Eastern Europe, Ng said: “I will also follow up on the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative ... and see if the government and our banks can do anything to support our small and medium enterprises.”
The national strategy is also a focus for Ronick Chan, board secretary of Bank of China (Hong Kong).
He said: “I will fight for more development opportunities in yuan business in Hong Kong and to promote Hong Kong’s fund-raising role in the One Belt One Road project in the coming years.”
For the rural power broker Heung Yee Kuk’s seat, kuk chairman Kenneth Lau is taking over from his father, Lau Wong-fat, who is stepping down after 31 years in Legco.
Kenneth Lau, 50, could not be reached for comment. But as he signed up for the elections on July 22, he said he would “safeguard the legal rights of indigenous villagers in the New Territories and support the government”.
In recent years the kuk has been at odds with officials over new town development projects.
In 2012, 62 candidates signed up to contest 35 functional constituencies seats, and 16 of them – including seven new faces – were returned uncontested.
Additional reporting by Enoch Yiu