Disqualified lawmaker Lau Siu-lai calls for democrats to show unity as Hong Kong by-election is set for November 25
Vote for Kowloon West constituency falls three days before appeal court hears Leung Kwok-hung argument to overturn his disqualification from Legislative Council
Hong Kong will have its next Legislative Council by-election on November 25, setting up a potential showdown between pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps.
The Electoral Affairs Commission announced the date of the vote, after ousted democratic lawmaker Lau Siu-lai dropped her appeal against a ruling that disqualified her from office for improper oath-taking.
The commission has not announced when nominations will begin, but estimates suggest the period could start as early as late September.
“It was one month earlier than expected, that requires democrats to work together for this uphill battle,” Lau said, who was poised to contest for her lost seat.
Lau was among six opposition lawmakers removed from their Legco seats amid the oath-taking saga. Four seats were filled earlier in March, and each camp won two.
However, democrats lost in the Kowloon West constituency, marking the first time they had lost a by-election for a geographical seat.
Unlike Lau, former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has continued his appeal and vowed to take it to the top court if necessary.
The by-election in November is scheduled for three days before the appeal court hears Leung’s case, which means it was impossible to have by-elections in the Kowloon West, and New Territories East, constituencies at the same time.
To guard against the possibility of Lau being barred from entering the election, most democratic parties have backed veteran former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.
However, this has been challenged by veteran pan-democrat Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who has proposed a primary for the right to contest the seat in the by-election.
Lau has urged Fung and his party, the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, to put aside its differences.
“Given the limited time, we should not hold a primary on this, which will confuse voters, [who will ask] why we are holding a primary for the backup, instead of supporting the candidate?” Lau said.
The pro-establishment camp has not decided on who to send to run against Lau. Former health minister Dr Ko Wing-man was reportedly being approached by the camp and the central government’s liaison office to run.
Ko told the Post he was “still pondering” whether to run and had yet to decide.
The one contested seat in Kowloon West constituency could determine whether democrats regain veto power, and block legislative bills, including the proposed changes to Legco house rules to temporarily suspend or fine lawmakers.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Cheung