Former Civic Party member Paul Zimmerman said yesterday he would back incumbent lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee to help the pan-democrats win three of the five so-called super seats in next month's Legco election.
The September 9 Legislative Council poll will allow the 3.2 million permanent residents excluded from voting in the trade-based functional constituencies to select a candidate for one of five new seats to represent the functional constituency for district councils.
Five slates and two individual candidates are competing for the five super seats, including two slates fielded by the Democratic Party - headed, respectively, by party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and James To Kun-sun.
Fung, a lawmaker from the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, is the only other candidate from the pan-democratic camp, which faces challengers including Lau Kong-wah, vice-chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).
Zimmerman called on pan-democratic supporters - other than those backing the Democratic Party slates headed by Ho and To - to vote for Fung to ensure the pan-democrats win three of the five 'super seats'.
He urged pan-democrats not to cast blank votes, which he said were as good as votes for DAB candidates Starry Lee Wai-king or independent candidate Pamela Peck Wan-kam.
'A blank vote is a wasted vote. We [need every vote to make sure] Fred gets in,' he said.
Zimmerman believes Ho and To have the network around Hong Kong to get the support they need.
Fung believes Zimmerman, a Dutch-born Southern District councillor, can help him gain support from professionals, expatriates and others on Hong Kong Island. Some believe Fung's vote in favour of the administration's electoral reform package in 2010 may work against him, as he broke ranks with the Civic and Labour parties which voted against it, but Fung insisted it would not discourage pan-democrat voters from backing him.
'The time is past for explaining the 2010 decision,' he said. 'All pan-democrats have the same goals - genuine universal suffrage for the chief executive and Legco [elections] in 2017 and 2020. So we have to ask - how can we make sure we win three 'super seats' and have at least 24 pan-democrats in the next Legco.'
Zimmerman also said he had discussed Fung's election platform with him and was convinced he will fight for universal suffrage.
'Some people who were very angry about 2010 ... on September 9, it may be that they have to spit first before they put a tick [for Fung]. But in the end they know they have to put a tick because otherwise they give their tick to the DAB,' Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman quit the Civic Party last month and has decided not to run against its candidates in the Legco election. He also scrapped his plan to seek one of the five 'super seats' because he was short of the required 15 nominations from district councillors.
Meanwhile, Chan Yuen-han of the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, , one of Fung's rivals for a 'super seat', surprised some Wong Tai Sin residents by putting on an apron and working for an hour as a waitress at an indoor food stall.
Chan said many food stalls in Hong Kong were under pressure because of surging rents and called on the government to help small businesses such as food stalls and traditional cha chaan teng.