Candidates with relatively neutral images and professional backgrounds emerged as big winners in yesterday's election of Hong Kong deputies to the national legislature.
They included barrister Martin Liao Cheung-kong, former secretary for security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, and financial expert Laura Cha Shih May-lung. In contrast, those who have been more outspoken, like National People's Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, performed relatively poorly.
"[Those who are less vocal] seldom show off and are unlikely to offend anyone, so electors found them more acceptable," said Lee Kok-keung, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "Fan could have upset some people with her controversial remarks."
Lee said it was usual in national elections for less controversial figures to win the most support.
Fan, who made veiled attacks both before and after Leung Chun-ying was elected in March as the city's chief executive, was returned with her share of votes down by nearly a fifth compared to the 2008 election, in which she was crowned "queen of ballots" with 1,118 votes.
She was among the 36 deputies elected from 52 candidates at the Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday morning. Among the winners, 13 were newcomers - the same number as in the 2008 poll.
Many now wonder whether Fan will retain her seat on the Standing Committee next spring for another five-year term.
Commercial-sector lawmaker Liao, 55, of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, garnered the most votes - 1,403. The chamber's 18 votes went to Leung in the chief executive race.
"I never imagined that I would win so many votes. I thought I would only manage to secure 1,100 to 1,200 votes," Liao said.
He said he would not seek a seat on the Standing Committee. "I can't manage the work of the committee and the Legislative Council at the same time."
In October, Liao raised eyebrows when he voted in favour of a motion that adjourned Legislative Council scrutiny of a funding request for the proposed Old Age Living Allowance.
The first runner-up in the voting was Ambrose Lee, 64, with 1,387 votes, who left the government this year after 38 years of service.
Incumbent delegate and executive councillor Bernard Chan, 47, came in third.
Executive councillor and incumbent deputy Laura Cha, 63, who has a legal background and worked for a long time in the financial industry, topped the vote among women.
Fan won 79 per cent of the 1,461 valid votes cast, 19.2 percentage points lower than her vote share in 2008, eighth lowest among 36 winners, and the second lowest among 23 incumbents.
Fan said that during vote canvassing, some election council members had advised her to be "less outspoken". But she said she was just speaking her mind.
On her chance of defending her committee seat, Fan said she would not worry about something out of her control but made clear she would be willing to serve another term.
Former Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee came in 36th. Her party members either abstained or voted for candidates other than Leung in March.
The two pan-democrats, district councillor Paul Zimmerman and school teacher Fong King-lok, both failed to be elected.
There were 1,620 electors but only 1,488 took part in the vote.