Disqualified Hong Kong lawmakers trigger by-election scramble
Political parties ready themselves for New Territories East and Kowloon West by-election after High Court ruling
Political parties on both sides have wasted no time in flagging their interests in the vacated seats of two localist lawmakers booted from the legislature.
Just a day after the High Court disqualified pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching for their oath-taking antics, politicians from the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps raised their hands for the New Territories East and Kowloon West seats.
Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, a former Democrat who lost in the September Legco elections in New Territories East, on Wednesday urged his allies to hold a primary race ahead of the by-elections.
“A primary would resolve the distrust within the camp and help us consolidate our energy in fighting against the pro-establishment camp,” Cheng said, adding he would not contest the by-election unless a primary was held.
Cheng bagged 17,892 votes in the September poll and was accused of “snatching votes” from his once-protege Gary Fan Kwok-wai, who also lost the seat.
Fan, of the NeoDemocrats, is tipped as one of the most likely candidates to represent the camp in the case of a by-election.
But pan-democrats on Wednesday said it was too early to discuss election plans.
“The situation is not yet clear as the duo might file an injunction to stop the government from vacating their seats,” Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said.
Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu raised concerns over the operational difficulties of a primary race, as candidates may not be able to afford the cost of running.
Meanwhile, major pro-establishment parties wasted no time in voicing their interests in the seats.
Kowloon West lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said at least five of her party colleagues based in the constituency had expressed interest in the by-election.
“Our electioneering machine in Kowloon West can be launched any time,” Chiang said, adding her party would hold talks with allied parties to avoid splitting the vote.
Wong Kwok-hing, a veteran unionist who failed to secure another term in September, said he would consider joining the race.
Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan said the party’s honorary chairman James Tien Pei-chun and young member Dominic Lee Tsz-king, who both lost in the New Territories East, might join the race and they would not necessarily coordinate with allies.
“We would always be asked to drop out if we joined the so-called coordination... We would not care about others’ bids if we have a chance of winning,” he said.