Legislative Council oath-taking saga

1.46 million voters urged to help Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp pick candidates for legislature by-elections

Primary on Sunday will decide who from the bloc will contest Legislative Council seats left vacant after lawmakers were disqualified for improper oaths of office

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 10:12pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 10:55pm

More than 1.46 million eligible voters have been urged to take part in a primary for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp on Sunday to pick two candidates to join by-elections for seats in the city’s legislature in March.

The primary will help to decide who will contest the Legislative Council seats representing the constituencies of Kowloon West and New Territories East. The two seats were left vacant last year along with four others after six pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified for improper oaths of office.

“Remember to vote! Let’s vote to select the strongest candidate,” poll organiser Andrew Chiu ka-yin, who is also convenor of activist group Power for Democracy, said on Saturday in an appeal to voters together with the six candidates in the primary.

Three polling stations will be set up in Kowloon West for more than 480,000 potential voters, while New Territories East will have five stations for 975,000 voters.

Eligible electors with identity cards and proof of their address can make their choice at one of the polling stations between 9am and 9pm.

The ballot will account for 45 per cent of the final result and telephone polling another 45 per cent, while votes from political parties and civil groups will contribute the remaining 10 per cent.

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Academic Edward Yiu Chung-yim was one of the six lawmakers disqualified. He held the Legco seat for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, which represents professionals in the sector. He is now seeking a comeback to the legislature by attempting to run for the Kowloon West seat.

Competing with him in the primary are veteran ex-lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee and Democratic Party district councillor Ramon Yuen Hoi-man.

For New Territories East, ex-lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Labour Party underdog Steven Kwok Wing-kin and former student activist Tommy Cheung Sau-yin are the hopefuls.

Six pro-democracy lawmakers were ousted from their Legco seats last year after Beijing ruled that the manner in which they took their oaths of office was unconstitutional.

Four of these seats are being contested in the March 11 by-election. Aside from Kowloon West and New Territories East, the constituencies of Hong Kong Island and the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape constituency will also be up for grabs.

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Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration previously held Kowloon West, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang represented New Territories East, Demosisto’s Nathan Law Kwun-chung occupied the Hong Kong Island seat, while Yiu held the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape constituency.

Two other ousted lawmakers, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, are appealing against the court decision to disqualify them, so no date has yet been set for by-elections to fill these seats.

There will be no primary for the Hong Kong Island seat as the pro-democracy camp has agreed that Demosisto’s Agnes Chow Ting has priority given that the seat was vacated by her party colleague.

On Saturday, Chow officially announced she would run for the seat with the backing of veteran pan-democrats including founding chairman of the Democratic Party Martin Lee Chu-ming and Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit.

“In these difficult times on the road to democracy, we need new thoughts and new brains,” former Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said, as she called on the public to support the 21-year-old student, who could become Hong Kong’s youngest ever lawmaker.