Legislative Council elections 2016

Medical sector heavyweights go head-to-head for functional constituency seat

Former president of the Public Doctors’ Association Dr Pierre Chan is facing private psychiatry specialist Dr John Wong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 2:13pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 9:03pm

Competition is expected to be fierce among candidates vying for functional constituency seats in the upcoming Legislative Council elections on September 4. With 12 candidates in 10 functional constituencies being returned unopposed, 43 candidates will run for seats in 18 trade-based constituencies - four more contested functional constituencies than in the 2012 Legco polls. Here, we look at the medical sector.

Two doctors actively involved in a recent battle against a government bill to reform the Medical Council are locked in a two-horse race for the Legislative Council medical sector seat vacated by Dr Leung Ka-lau.

A young rising star in the medical sector, former Public Doctors’ Association president Dr Pierre Chan Pui-yin is facing private psychiatry specialist Dr John Wong Yee-him.

Two other heavyweights who were eyeing the position, University of Hong Kong microbiologist professor Ho Pak-leung and Medical Association president Dr Gabriel Choi Kin, made a last-minute decision not to run.

Chan, 38, a public gastroenterology specialist, gained fame last October when he led the biggest protest in the medical sector in eight years at public hospitals to fight for an extra 3 per cent rise for some senior doctors.

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The battle against the authorities was a short one as hospital chiefs quickly agreed to their demands.

Chan stepped down as association president in January.

An insider believed public doctors would be Chan’s major supporters, especially younger ones.

Chan has been associated with younger groups of doctors in the sector who, unlike older doctors who were in general more indifferent towards politics, adopted a more active and pro-democracy stance.

On the day he submitted his nomination forms, Chan said he objected to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying being re-elected and backed calls for the truth to be revealed about the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

He would not rule out adopting filibuster tactics in Legco, but stressed such radical moves could be avoided if the government had enhanced its communication with all stakeholders.

The other hopeful, Wong, is more likely to draw votes from private doctors.

Wong, who was nominated by two vice-presidents of the Medical Association, the city’s largest doctors’ group, said he aimed to help the body reform the medical watchdog once he was elected.

The two are eyeing the seat left vacant by Leung, who was first elected in 2008 before being re-elected in 2012.

Doctors on the wrong side of bid to revamp the Medical Council

Ho, a former president of the Public Doctors’ Association and a highly respected scholar at the University of Hong Kong, would have been Chan’s major rival if he decided to challenge him. But Ho announced he was backing off on Friday for family reasons.

Choi also decided to opt out. “In the end I got cold feet and decided not to go for it,” said Choi, 67, a well-respected private nephrologist.

“Someone reminded me that entering Legco might be a conflict of interest with my role as president of the Medical Association.

“Also, I am a super-patient with more diseases and ailments than you could imagine for an elderly [person]. I do not think I can shoulder the workload in Legco without the likelihood of dying,” Choi said.