Hopefuls flock to testing ground for first taste of poll battlefield

Jimmy Cheung

The fast-developing district of Sai Kung has been a magnet for district council hopefuls, with a number putting their electoral appeal to the test for the first time.

Neither the Democrats nor the rival Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong dare claim an edge on the battlefield - a mix of villages and newly urbanised areas.

Among those taking advantage of the rapid growth is Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) member Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, who abandoned his stronghold in Yau Tsim Mong this summer to take on independent Wan Yuet-cheung in Tung Ming, Tseung Kwan O.

But the solicitor said his support was far too slim for the Legco polls next year and admitted he was looking much further down the road.

'The ADPL should be scaled down to a pressure group if it can't extend itself from its power base in Shamshuipo. From a strategic point of view, we've got to expand,' he said.

Despite support from independent legislator Andrew Wong Wang-fat, Mr Wong said he only had a 30 per cent chance of defeating Mr Wan, whose elder brother, Wan Yuet-kau, is a DAB heavyweight seeking re-election in Sai Kung.

'If I fail this time, what's the point of staying in politics. I might as well pull out for good,' Mr Wong said.

His rival has a solid base of support in the housing estates.

Up to 28 of the 41 candidates, or 70 per cent, are new faces eager to test their strength in the district, which offers 17 seats on November 28. A fight between the DAB and Democrats is looming in four of the seats.

The DAB has doubled its 1994 line-up to eight this year and claimed one uncontested seat, but remains cautious about the final outcome.

'All six candidates standing in the urban areas are first-time campaigners. I would expect half to be returned,' said Wan Yuet-kau.

The Democrats, who raised their candidate numbers from four in 1994 to five this year, are also cautious.

'We would say three of our five candidates are likely to win. The DAB and Democrats have more or less the same level of support here,' said Lam Wing-yin, who co-ordinates the campaign in Sai Kung.

The incumbent provisional regional councillor described Tseung Kwan O as a key district in which the party was keen to foster support in light of the Legco polls.