Legislative Council elections 2016

Mirror mirror on the wall: Legco candidates spruce themselves up ahead of September polls

With the Legislative Council elections just around the corner, many candidates have opted to get makeovers in a last ditch bid to stand out from the pack and attract crucial voters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 7:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 11:38am

Hats, new glasses, jogging and pictures on the beach – these are all parts of an election makeover that candidates are attempting in a bid to present their best sides ahead of the Legislative Council polls on September 4.

That was particularly the case for the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, which saw at least seven of its candidates dressing up in uniforms of different occupations, or changing their glasses or hairstyles to catch supporters’ attention.

In New Territories West, FTU lawmaker Alice Mak Mei-kuen is leading a slate of five candidates in her re-election bid, but Mak and Yiu Kwok-wai were the only ones in business dress on their election pamphlet – as the other three candidates dressed up as a flight attendant, construction worker and a cook.

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Mak told the Post that her teammates were all district councillors or community officers for the federation. “They were in uniforms to show that the FTU represents employees from different professions, whether they are in blue or white collar jobs or from the lower or middle class,” she said.

Tang Ka-piu, who gave up his labour sector seat to seek re-election in New Territories East, did not focus on costumes but is sporting a new, wavy hairstyle .

“It makes me look smarter, tidier and helps people remember me,” Tang said.

On Hong Kong Island, FTU lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung’s election platform features a photo of him and four other hopefuls on the ticket running in Tamar Park, but the spotlight was on Stanley Ng Chau-pei – placed second on Kwok’s slate – who gave up his thin-rimmed glasses and chose a new pair with thicker rims.

“My colleagues said I looked too gentle in my old glasses ... and they said these vintage glasses are more trendy, will make me look stronger,” Ng told the Post. He also said the running picture was meant to show that their team is “young and energetic”.

At the other end of the political spectrum, Civic Passion candidates Alvin Cheng Kam-mun and Cheng Chung-tai also adopted a sports theme, but for a different reason.

With him running and sweating in a T-shirt, Cheng Chung-tai’s photograph looks almost like a sports brand advertisement. But the 32-year-old, one of Mak’s rivals in New Territories West, told the Post that it was aimed at sending a message of hope.

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“We want to tell people that democracy is achievable if we go for it and persevere,” Cheng said.

For Cheng’s 54-year-old ally, Horace Chin Wan-kan, running in New Territories East, a change in personal image was more suitable than using the running theme.

Chin gave up his traditional Chinese costumes last month, and has been wearing a straw hat and shirts.

“I hope my hat will help to remind people about the city’s colonial officials ... It was like an adventure for them to come all the way to Hong Kong,” Chin said. He believes the image will fit his call for changes to the Basic Law to protect Hongkongers’ interests and the city’s “British legal system”.

In the pan-democratic camp, most candidates took their campaign photographs in studios. But Civic Party’s Hong Kong Island pair Tanya Chan and Cheng Tat-hung have pictures of them standing on the shore at Big Wave Bay in Shek O.

Chan said a primary message of her campaign was that residents must “defend Hong Kong’s future”. “The two of us standing in the water ... shows that our party and the city can stand firm amid challenging waves,” she said.

City University political scientist James Sung Lap-kung told the Post the election makeovers showed that candidates were keen to distinguish themselves from their allies.

“The candidates’ stance on sensitive issues and their political affiliations are more important than their publicity ... but there are so many young candidates this time, and [makeovers] can help them to stand out,” Sung said.

For a full list of candidates, click here.