DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2015: SPECIAL REPORT
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Hong Kong district council elections 2015

Out with the old: Two big-name pan-democrats ousted in tight district council election races

But losses by Albert Ho and Frederick Fung don’t significantly alter proportion of seats held by pro-democracy and pro-government camps

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 November, 2015, 7:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 November, 2015, 6:48pm

A pair of pro-democracy heavyweights were marginally unseated in a District Council poll generating a record turnout rate of 47 per cent and the emergence of fresh faces, some of them inspired by the Occupy protests.

The election results did not pose a significant change to the proportion between the pro-democracy and pro-government camps, as the latter continued to enjoy a numerical edge despite a drop in the number of seats compared to the last election.

But some newly elected politicians illustrated the continuing support behind last year’s Occupy protests in an election that had a higher turnout rate than the record 44 per cent set in 2003 after a 500,000-strong anti-government protest that year.

READ MORE: Record numbers vote at Hong Kong’s district council elections; two pan-democratic big guns defeated and three new pro-Occupy candidates win seats

Two of at least four successfully elected “Umbrella soldiers” remarkably defeated pro-establishment heavyweights such as lawmaker Christopher Chung Shu-kun, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and Kowloon City district council chairman Lau Wai-wing.

The NeoDemocrats, a breakaway group of the Democrats, fared especially well. They won 15 of 16 district seats they contested, attaining the minimum number for nominating a super-seat candidate.

The Civic Party won 10 seats, three more since the last election, although lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok failed in his bid to run in South Horizons and to secure an entry ticket to a super seat next year.

The rise of the pro-democracy youngsters, coupled with the fall of veteran big names in the same camp, fuelled uncertainty about who would run for the super seats in next year’s Legislative Council election as two of the three incumbent pro-democracy “super-seat” lawmakers failed to secure a district position.

The pair, Albert Ho Chun-yan and Frederick Fung Kin-kee, lost their district seats by small margins and became ineligible to seek re-election in the super seats designed only for district councillors. Only James To Kun-sun, Ho’s Democratic Party ally, kept his seat.

“I respect the result and I would not blame anyone,” said Fung, a member of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood.

He said his time spent as a lawmaker played a role in yesterday's defeat. "I needed to spend more time at Legco because meetings are getting longer. This has certainly affected [the election result]," he said.

Fung added that the efforts to portray him as part of filibustering efforts in Legco also played a role in the outcome.

"There are 27 pan-democrats [in Legco] but only three to four engaged in filibustering ... why should the rest of us bear the consquences of the actions of a few?" he asked.

Fung won 2,432 votes, 99 short of his main challenger, 25-year-old Chan Wing-yan, who was linked to both the DAB and the Federation of Trade Unions. Fung’s former ally Eric Wong Chung-ki, who also stood against him in the same constituency and won 215 votes, declined to say if his only intention was to unseat Fung.

Ho won 1,617 votes, 125 fewer than former Law Society president Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. “The Democratic Party’s performance is unexpectedly bad,” said Albert Ho, who was enmeshed in a rare six-person race.

The overall picture for the pro-democracy camp, however, was not completely dim. In particular, the pro-government camp appeared to be losing its majority in the Sha Tin district council according to early results, with pro-democracy rivals getting elected to 19 seats, equalling the tally held by the pro-establishment camp.

Citywide, the Democratic Party won one more seat and scored 43 in total. Several second-tier figures, including vice-chairman Lo Kin-hei and chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting, scored victories, while others like vice-chairman Andrew Wan Siu-kin lost.

READ MORE: ‘Umbrella soldiers’ battle pro-establishment candidates in District Council elections

The Labour Party’s Yip Wing unseated DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat by a margin of 130 votes. Quat blamed her defeat on the rise of “political” votes, while DAB chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king conceded it was difficult for lawmakers to take care of district affairs.

Lee, a super seat lawmaker herself, succeeded in her district re-election bid, claiming one of the 119 seats won by the DAB, the same figure the party notched in the 2011 election.

“The election results show that we have to listen to the voices of the young people,” said Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who won 2,314 votes and beat 24-year-old Yau Wai-ching, another “Umbrella soldier” of Youngspiration, by less than 300 votes.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing won a seat in Siu Sai Wan, although he declined to say if he would run for a super seat next year. Unlike Wong, Paul Tse Wai-chun said he would not run for the super-seat and would seek re-election in the Kowloon East constituency next year, after the pro-establishment lawmaker won a district seat in Wan Chai.

Additional reporting by Samuel Chan