Legislative Council elections 2016

Hong Kong pan-democrats eye traditionally pro-establishment wholesale and retail seat

Pan-democrats have never won the seat but an up-and-coming Democrat wants to give it a go in the September elections

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 8:01am

The pan-democrats may make a rare move to contest the Legislative Council seat for the wholesale and retail sector, a long-time stronghold of the pro-establishment camp.

Au Nok-hin, an up-and-coming young Democratic Party member, vowed to fight for the interests of small businesses against the increasing domination of major retail chains in Hong Kong’s streets and shopping malls.

Three pan-democrat candidates may seek Hong Kong social welfare Legislative Council seat

Admitting his chance of winning the seat was low given that it had always been won by the rival pro-establishment camp, Au said he wanted to bring difficulties faced by small businesses to the attention of society and the retail sector.

“I don’t want to see people being left only with retail chains,” Au told the media on Thursday. “It is ever more difficult for small businesses to survive because of high rents and also the Link chasing out small shops from public housing estates.”

The party’s election committee has endorsed Au’s bid pending final endorsement from its central committee.

Pan-democrats have never taken the wholesale and retail seat. It was uncontested in the 2012 election, going to the Liberal Party’s Vincent Fang Kang, who will step down this year. The Liberals are considering allowing a young member, Shiu Ka-fai, to run for the seat.

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Au revealed a lesser known fact about himself. Apart from his work as a Southern district councillor, he is a partner in his mother’s company, which runs a fashion retail business. The firm has two shops and one booth in Sincere department store.

“We once had eight shops. But small businesses like ours have had to struggle to survive. So I understand the problems plaguing small and medium-sized enterprises,” Au said.

He expects to use HK$40,000 to run his campaign with the aim of targeting small businesses.

Separately, Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said he wanted to use his ThunderGo plan to coordinate Legco candidates in the social welfare sector.

Floated earlier this year, the plan calls for the city’s pan-democrats to form a united front in the September polls in a bid to break the pro-establishment camp’s legislative majority.

Three individuals in the pan-democrat camp have indicated their intention to contest the social welfare seat, which traditionally returns a pan-democrat.

The three are Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, Social Workers’ General Union president Yip Kin-chung and Baptist University social work lecturer Siu Ka-chun.

Tai wants to persuade two of them to give up running to prevent a split in pan-democrat votes and thereby hand victory to a pro-establishment rival.

So far, the law professor’s campaign has received a lukewarm response from political parties, with the NeoDemocrats refusing to join as it bids to win one of five functional constituency “super seats”, which are chosen by all electors territory-wide except those who can vote in traditional functional constituencies.