Election battle looms between pro-Occupy factions for Hong Kong legislative seat
Youngspiration convenor Baggio Leung says meeting with Civic Party slated for this week to discuss next year’s race
Having tasted victory in the district council polls on Sunday, the city's biggest post-Occupy group, Youngspiration, is now set for its next fight: the by-election for a legislative seat next year, even if it means a head-to-head battle with traditional pan-democrats.
The city's three major pan-democratic parties have all agreed to support Civic Party barrister Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, who has been working in New Territories East for years, in February's race. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Yeung's mentor, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, in the wake of summer's failed political reform package.
Victory could be handed to Beijing loyalists if the camp fails to come up with a single candidate to consolidate all prodemocracy votes in the constituency.
Youngspiration's convenor, Baggio Leung Chung-hang, yesterday reiterated his group's interest in contesting the race and urged pan-democrats to hold a primary ahead of the election.
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“We sent an invitation to the Civic Party two months ago for a meeting to explore the possibility of holding a primary,” Leung told Commercial Radio’s On a Clear Day. “That would be the most cost-effective way to let Hongkongers decide.”
The meeting was expected to take place this week, Leung said, as both parties had been heavily engaged in the District Council races in recent months.
While he was supportive of the rise of the new generation in the political arena,Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the by-election "was not a private matter between two political groups but involved pan-democrats' coordination of resources and election strategy".
“The Civic Party will contact Youngspiration as soon as possible to learn more about their political views, and before such a meeting, we will also discuss Youngspiration’s suggestion with other pan-democratic groups.”
Leong confirmed that Yeung was the only candidate the party’s executive committee had considered. But his bid would only become official if he was endorsed at the party’s general meeting, Leong added.
But Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan poured scorn on the idea, saying a primary was neither realistic nor cost-effective.
"With the by-election just months away, do we really have the money and time for a primary?" she asked.
Democrats would definitely back Yeung instead of Youngspiration as the seat was vacated by a former Civic Party member, said Wong, who suggested the group might be trying to promote itself through the by-election ahead of the Legislative Council poll next year.
Meanwhile, on an invitation sent to Youngspiration by Commission on Youth chairman Lau Ming-wai, which was regarded as an olive branch, Leung said they were open to such a meeting as they had the responsibility to voice Hongkongers' opinions to the government.
Speaking separately, Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said he believed the pan-democrats’ primary should not only include the Civic Party and Youngspiration, but other pro-democracy groups as well.
“The most important goal is to win the seat, and we have to think of what is the best way to get the most votes,” Lee said.
Some district council candidates inspired by last year’s Occupy protests and nicknamed ‘Umbrella soldiers’, had described themselves as the freshest faces in politics.
But Lee said being a fresh face in politics was not enough to win a Legco seat.
“For Legco, people consider whether you have experience or a group’s backing to be a lawmaker,” the veteran lawmaker said. “You also need to specify what political stance you represent and your views on various policy issues. You need to have a clear stance.”
READ MORE: ‘Umbrella father’: How Occupy was a wake-up call for ordinary Joe and election miracle winner Chui Chi-kin
Meanwhile, Dr Kwong Po-yin, the only Youngspiration candidate who won Sunday, in Whampoa West district, said she would use different means such as street booths and the internet to gauge her constituents’ opinions when dealing with district affairs.
Another member, Yau Wai-ching, who lost her race to lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun by just 300 votes, said she did not highlight her participation in the 79-day Occupy protests during the election campaign as she did not want to be labelled an ‘Umbrella soldier’.
“I did not join the race simply because of the Umbrella movement ... but because of unresolved deep-rooted conflicts in Hong Kong,” she said. “Voters care more about your manifesto.”