Hong Kong’s pan-democrats hope to play ‘kingmaker’ in election to choose city’s next leader

The camp aims to win a quarter of seats on 1,200-strong committee that picks the chief executive in March

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 9:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 12:17am

The democratic caucus is aiming to secure a bigger say in the chief executive election by grabbing a quarter of seats on the 1,200-strong committee that will pick the next Hong Kong leader in March, up by almost half on the last race.

Six pan-democrats elected to the Legislative Council in functional constituencies, who recently formed an alliance called the Professionals Guild, are coordinating efforts in the Election Committee contest. But they all held reservations about fielding a candidate for chief executive – in contrast to the previous two races.

The democratic camp was caught in a dilemma this year on whether to send an aspirant to challenge a pro-establishment rival at election forums or to make full use of their votes in the Election Committee and possibly act as “kingmaker” – which might help them unseat incumbent Leung Chun-ying, should he seek a second term.

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“We have entered people in the chief executive race previously but it did not have much impact,” Ip Kin-yuen, re-elected to represent the education sector, said. He was referring to the bids of the Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit, who ran in 2007, and Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan in 2012.

“We should reflect on whether the strategy we adopted in the past was effective.”

The guild, however, agreed that the camp could stand in the race if there was only one pro-Beijing candidate running.

The pan-democratic camp pocketed 205 seats in the 1,200-strong Election Committee in 2012 that eventually returned Leung.

The guild was eyeing 300 seats this year, while the legal sector’s Dennis Kwok said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the pan-democrats could pocket at least 250 seats in the December 11 election.

“We now have roughly 200 seats but we haven’t actually tried our very best in a number of sectors. We actually haven’t fielded enough candidates in the past,” Kwok, the group’s convenor, said.

He was referring to sectors including medical and health services and the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector. In 2011 the camp fielded no more than five candidates in each 30-strong sector.

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But things are set to change in the wake of the Legco elections after the pan-democrats achieved “encouraging results” in the functional constituencies.

Edward Yiu Chung-yim, the first democrat to win in the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, revealed the camp might be able to form a 30-strong team this year, a huge jump from just two in 2011.

Yiu’s constituency was once the stronghold of Leung, who used to be a surveyor and secured 23 nominations from this sector in the last race.

The guild hoped to build a platform for liaison, particularly with the new professional groups that had mushroomed following the Occupy sit-ins in 2014.

Meanwhile, Executive Council member Cheung Chi-kong said he would support Leung if he sought to run for a second term as the city’s leader, describing his policies on the elderly, poverty alleviation, housing and the environment as effective.

He was the second public figure in a week to publicly endorse Leung following property tycoon Ronnie Chan Chichung, chairman of the Hang Lung group.

But he declined to comment on whether Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah would make a suitable leader for Hong Kong, saying Tsang had not made clear whether he would run.

Additional reporting by Phila Siu