Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Hong Kong’s rival camps win one district council seat each in first by-elections since oath-taking saga

Both constituencies up for grabs were in the downtown district of Central and Western

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 8:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 2:03am

Hong Kong’s rival political camps won one district council seat each in Monday’s early hours, in the first electoral showdown between the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment bloc since six opposition lawmakers were disqualified from the Legislative Council.

In the Tung Wah constituency in Sheung Wan, Bonnie Ng Hoi-yan of the Democratic Party was announced the winner with 1,034 votes. Her rivals, primary school head teacher Lui Kam-keung and former Labour Party member Olivia Lau Shu-yin, got 909 votes and 20 votes respectively.

Over on The Peak, Jeremy Young Chit-on of the pro-establishment Liberal Party won with 1,378 votes. His rival, democracy activist and hedge fund manager Edward Chin Chi-kin, got 394 votes.

Young was political assistant to the education secretary between 2008 and 2012.

More than 3,500 voters turned out on Sunday for the two polls. Both seats are on the Central and Western District Council, and both were previously held by pro-establishment councillors.

The by-elections were triggered after Kathy Siu Ka-yi of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and Joseph Chan Ho-lim of the Liberal Party, quit to join the government in August.

Speaking after winning Siu’s former seat in Tung Wah, Ng said: “The DAB did not field any candidate in the by-election after [Siu] quit to join the government. The voters might think that the pro-establishment party had abandoned them. I can’t rule out that this was the reason some voters did not support a pro-establishment candidate this time.”

Even before polling stations closed at 10.30pm, Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said Young would probably win the Peak seat.

“The Liberal Party’s support in The Peak has been much stronger than its rivals’. The constituency was also affected by [2014’s pro-democracy] Occupy protests, and many voters are either wealthy or civil servants,” he said.

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According to official figures, 33.41 per cent of 5,327 registered voters for The Peak and 38.81 per cent of the 5,084 registered for Tung Wah cast ballots. At the last count at 5pm, the Registration and Electoral Office had received 56 complaints, of which 31 concerned election advertisements.

The contest was being closely watched as a prelude to a bigger showdown next March when opposition lawmakers will attempt to regain four of the Legco seats they lost over improper oath-taking.

Six lawmakers were disqualified by a court for spoiling their oaths in October last year after legal proceedings were initiated against them by the previous government, led by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

Despite the highly politicised atmosphere, commentators said, district council voters were known to be more concerned about livelihood issues than ideology, which could work against the pan-democrats.