Localist candidates look to shake up Hong Kong’s political landscape in crucial Legislative Council elections
All eyes on whether polls will produce city’s first legislator advocating separation from China
Was Hong Kong about to produce its first lawmaker who envisioned the city separated from China? That question was among the most fiercely debated topics among pundits as polling took place on Sunday for Legislative Council elections almost 20 years after London passed back to Beijing the keys to the city.
“I think I stand a good chance of winning,” Youngspiration hopeful Yau Wai-ching, contesting in the Kowloon West constituency, said at the halfway mark of the day’s 15-hour voting session.
Yau’s optimism was not without reason. In the New Territories East by-election in February, Hong Kong Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei, a fervent advocate of independence, won a handsome 66,000 votes.
Leung – along with five others – was barred from entering Sunday’s poll race on the grounds his motives in seeking independence contravened the Basic Law. He instead called on supporters to back Youngspiration. The group steers clear of the term “independence”, using instead the phrase “self-determination”. Leung in particular supported Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang in the New Territories East constituency. But whether the latter would garner as much support as the former – a primary suspect in February’s Mong Kok riot – remained a matter of debate.
“I’ve thought of supporting Baggio Leung but I’m sceptical of his stance,” Chan Chi-kit, a voter in the constituency, said on Sunday.
As polling stations opened on Sunday morning, Youngspiration found itself busy fending off a claim made on the cover of Chinese-language newspaper Sing Pao, which said the group was a tool for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Beijing’s liaison office in the city to deepen fear of groups advocating secession.
Canvassing votes for Sixtus Leung on Sunday, Edward Leung said he understood the candidate might not win as high a vote share as he did in the by-election. But he added: “As long as we have enough to win a seat then it’s alright.”
Edward Leung brushed off recent infighting within the localist camp involving radical lawmaker Wong Yuk-man, saying he did not think it would pose a significant threat to the Youngspiration candidate’s chances.
“The differences we have [with other localist groups] show our ideas are actually different from theirs,” he said.
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