People Power and Neo Democrat radicals punish Democrats

Members of two groups who split from main party reap success, calling into question its backing for government's electoral reforms

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 2:07pm

Big names among the pan-democrats may have been the major losers on Sunday, but representatives of two radical niche groups formed out of dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party were among the winners in their maiden campaigns.

The newcomers' success brought calls for the Democrats to reflect on their support for the government's electoral reforms. It also brought predictions that governance could become even more difficult for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, a new face for People Power, won 38,042 votes to win a seat in New Territories East.

He secured 1,000 more votes than incumbent and Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing and took the number of seats held by People Power to three.

The NeoDemocrats, formed in 2010 by disillusioned former Democrats, won a seat in the same constituency. Founding member Gary Fan Kwok-wai snatched the last of nine seats with 28,621 votes.

Both groups grew out of opposition to the Democratic Party's support for the electoral reforms in 2010.

Television and radio host Chan - better known as "Slow Beat" - called on the Democrats to "reflect deeply" on their decision to support the package.

"If even a new candidate can get more votes than a veteran lawmaker and the vice-chairwoman of the Democratic Party, they should have an in-depth reflection on their support for the electoral reforms.

"If they can admit their mistake there is room for co-operation," Chan, 40, chief executive officer of online radio station Hong Kong Reporter, said.

The two People Power incumbents, Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip, kept their seats.

Another first-time People Power candidate, Wong Yeung-tat, failed in Kowloon East by 2,900 votes. Wong Yuk-man blamed the defeat on a media smear campaign against the party.

He said: "If it was not for the smearing by certain media before the election, People Power would have secured at least one more seat in Kowloon East."

Raymond Chan was a popular programme host back in the 1990s when he teamed up with "Fast Beat" Tam Tak-chi.

The new Legco member did not start his political career until 2010, when he joined the online station to host a current affairs programme. He ran a failed district council campaign last year against Democrat Lee Wing-tat.

The other winner, NeoDemocrat Gary Fan, a veteran Sai Kung district councillor, was a second-tier member with little chance of seeking election while a Democrat. "We fought a hard battle with few resources," he said.

Lingnan University political scientist Dr Li Pang-kwong said voters "showed an apparent trend to turn [politically] left and accept the radical factions who support progressive reforms".

He also predicted the radical lawmakers would continue with their uncompromising approach, making governance difficult for the administration.

"They will make the most of Legco's rules to use tactics such as filibustering. Governance will be extra-hard for Leung Chun-ying, who already has a narrow mandate," Li said.