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Legislative Council oath-taking saga

By-election results shed little light on coming Legco showdown, political analysts say

Vote was the first electoral battle since six pan-democratic lawmakers were disqualified by the court for spoiling their oaths in October

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 9:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 10:43pm

The opposition pan-democratic camp has been warned not to get too happy over the “small victory” in Sunday’s district level by-election although they could regain one of the two seats from their pro-Beijing rivals.

Political analysts said the results provided little indication of the outcome of the bigger showdown in next March’s Legislative Council by-elections.

More than 3,700 voters in the two constituencies of Tung Wah and The Peak of the Central and Western district council hit the polling booths on Sunday. The turnout rate for Tung Wah was 38.81 per cent while that of The Peak was 33.41 per cent.

The by-election was closely watched as it was the first electoral showdown between the two rival blocs since six pan-democratic lawmakers were disqualified by the court for spoiling their oaths in October last year after legal proceedings were initiated against them by the government.

Pan-democrats also hoped the outcome could shed some light on next March’s Legco by-elections, which were triggered by the disqualification saga.

Democrat Bonnie Ng Hoi-yan took the Tung Wah seat with 1,034 votes, 125 votes more than her major rival, school headmaster Lui Kam-keung, who had the backing of the pro-Beijing camp. Another contestant in the constituency, former Labour Party member Olivia Lau Shu-yin, got only 20 votes.

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Over on The Peak, pan-democrat-backed Edward Chin Chi-kin, an Occupy activist and fund manager, only got 394 votes. Jeremy Young Chit-on of the pro-establishment Liberal Party won with 1,378 votes.

Young said of his victory: “The election is not about which camp can win over its rival. It is about who the voters think can serve them better.”

The Peak seat was once taken by Tanya Chan of the Civic Party between 2008 and 2011, but she was defeated by Liberal Party’s Joseph Chan Ho-lim in 2011. Joseph Chan was re-elected in the district council general elections in 2015.

The Tung Wah seat was previously held by Democratic Party’s Frederick Ho Chun-ki but was lost to Kathy Siu Ka-yi of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) in the 2011 election. In 2015, Siu was re-elected.

Sunday’s by-elections were triggered after Siu and Joseph Chan quit the council to join the government in August.

Dr Chung Kim-wah from Polytechnic University said: “The pro-Beijing camp might have taken the district council by-election too lightly this time. But the Legco by-election next year involves much more votes and much, much bigger constituencies. It will be an entirely different battle.”

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Dr Ma Ngok of Chinese University shared similar views and added: “The district polls are more about livelihood issues while the Legco-level election is about politics.”

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai was satisfied with Sunday’s results and said: “It shows that if the pro-democracy camp can get united to field one candidate to fight with the pro-Beijing camp, we stand a good chance to win.

“I hope the different fractions in the pro-democracy camp can get united, cooperate, and coordinate with each other again to field the strongest candidates to the Legislative Council by-election next March. That will be a battle too important for us to lose.”