Little-known pro-Beijing engineer in surprise win in Kwun Tong by-election Democrat heavyweight Fred Li Wah-ming was defeated by political newcomer Cheung Shun-wah in yesterday's district council by-election. The legislator received 1,249 votes, while the pro-Beijing engineer garnered 1,491 votes - a margin of 242. Turnout yesterday was 37.5 percent - regarded high for a by-election. More than 2,900 voters voted in the King Tin constituency in Kwun Tong, 6.99 percentage points more than at the last poll in 1999. The defeat is a huge blow to the Democratic Party. Mr Li expressed disappointment with the result, blaming a late start in campaigning. 'We tried our best in the past two to three months. However, we have to admit that the pro-Beijing parties' organising power is really huge,' Mr Li said. Mr Cheung, who is little known in political circles, has worked in the district for years. It was not the first time the Democrat heavyweight has lost in a district council election. In 1999, when he was one of the masterminds behind the party's election strategy, Mr Li lost to Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong incumbent Kwok Bit-chun in Shun Ting West constituency. Mr Li had previously warned the party not to rely on 'star factor' and said the key to winning a council seat was for members to devote themselves to grassroots work. Also standing yesterday was social worker Chan Man Luen-ying, who received 192 votes. Both Mr Cheung and Mr Chan were backed by pro-Beijing parties. Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung attributed the high turnout to growing interest in district affairs following the government's plans to boost the role of the district councils. But election expert Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, believed the turnout was largely due to the keen competition between the three candidates. The vacancy arose after non-affiliated Philip Ng Chung-tak was jailed for 18 months in March for falsely claiming more than $100,000 for his assistant's pay. Under the law, an elected member is disqualified if he does not attend meetings for four months.