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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker says pro-democracy groups in city forming alliance to help her as she considers Legco comeback

Lau Siu-lai notes missteps in losing campaign of fellow former lawmaker and admits relying on oath saga backlash would not be enough to win over voters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 4:33pm

Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai revealed on Thursday that major pro-democracy groups in the city had formed an alliance to help her explore a comeback in the upcoming by-election.

Lau, who was disqualified last year from the Legislative Council alongside Edward Yiu Chung-yim and four other pan-democratic lawmakers after a court found their oath-taking improper, admitted her bloc could not solely bank on the backlash over the saga in their campaign.

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After Yiu’s defeat in the March by-election, the pressure is now on for Lau to win the Kowloon West constituency that has three pro-establishment camp lawmakers and two pan-democrats.

Her latest strategy was regarded as an effort to learn from what happened to Yiu, who lost to Vincent Cheng Wing-shun. Yiu became the first pro-democracy candidate to be beaten by a Beijing loyalist in a Legco by-election since the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Yiu was accused of failing to connect with local communities and pro-democracy parties.

Lau acknowledged on Thursday that communication within the camp had “not been perfect” during the March campaign, but added the camp had thrown its weight behind Yiu.

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Sources said Lau, a social science lecturer at Polytechnic University’s Hong Kong Community College before becoming a full-time politician in 2016, would try to link her policy ideas with neighbourhood issues to make them more relevant to voters.

“On the one hand, the formation of the support group is meant to unify the pan-democrats on welfare issues,” she said. “For the [upcoming] by-election, we also need better cooperation.”

While Lau said she was “actively considering” contesting her old seat, she denied the group had been set up solely for her.

She confirmed that major political players such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, including veteran politician Alan Leong Kah-kit, would be involved.

No one slogan can win over the whole constituency
Lau Siu-lai, ousted lawmaker

Lau’s recent moves in joining the Labour Party, and appearing alongside former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, were expected to boost her ties with the pro-democracy camp, the sources said.

Separately on Tuesday, Lau stated her camp could not rely on playing the “DQ” card with voters unhappy about the government’s move to unseat the six lawmakers.

“No one slogan can win over the whole constituency,” she said, adding that the elderly and working-class voters in Kowloon West might pay more attention to welfare issues than such “big politics”.

Lau is not the only one gearing up for the November by-election.

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The Kowloon Federation of Associations, an umbrella organisation of about 200 pro-Beijing groups, fired a campaign salvo last month by renting a 25-metre billboard outside the city’s busiest cross-harbour tunnel in Hung Hom. It featured former television news anchor Chan Hoi-yan as its “health ambassador”.

The pricey ad appeared to all but confirm the bloc’s backing of Chan to run against Lau for the vacant seat in November.

Veteran pan-democrat Frederick Fung Kin-kee has also signalled an interest in the seat.

The former chairman of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL) has been politically active in Kowloon West for more than three decades.

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But Fung left the party in July to form a new advocacy group.

Political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung believed Lau’s moves were aimed at addressing what led to Yiu’s defeat.

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The Chinese University academic said Yiu had drawn criticism for letting pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick “monopolise” his campaign, making it hard for other pan-democrats to join.

The alliance would allow Lau to start her campaign at an earlier date and get help from more pan-democratic groups, he added.

Five takeaways from disappointing by-election for Hong Kong pan-democrats

“It will be a good thing [for Lau] as the campaign will have more manpower and resources.”

If the ADPL takes part in the alliance, Choy said it could mitigate the threat from Fung.

The government on Friday gazetted the nomination period for the by-election to be October 2 to October 15.

Additional reporting by Alvin Lum