Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Ousted pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai announces bid to return to the Legislative Council in by-election

Lecturer looks to avoid Edward Yiu’s mistakes in Kowloon West, but says she does not know if she will be allowed to run

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 11:05pm

Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai has announced a bid to re-enter the legislature in a November by-election.

Lau, one of six lawmakers removed from the Legislative Council for improperly taking their oaths, vowed to return to Legco to “stand for justice and strive for our future”.

She will contest the poll for the Kowloon West constituency.

At a rally on Thursday afternoon, Lau said she never supported Hong Kong independence. She said her previous calls for self-determination had to do with genuine universal suffrage and autonomy in livelihood issues, such as a universal pension.

She said she could not tell if she would join the ranks of pro-democracy activists barred from elections.

“The regime has been using unreasonable excuses to bar candidates that it does not like,” she said. “In such a ridiculous situation, we can’t tell how likely I am to be barred.”

Lau said she would hand in her papers once the nomination period begins on October 2, to allow more time for the pro-democracy camp to deploy a backup plan, should she be blocked. The 42-year-old social science lecturer at Polytechnic University’s Hong Kong Community College recently joined the Labour Party, whose former chairman Lee Cheuk-yan was understood to be the “plan B” candidate.

“The last thing I want is to execute the ‘plan B’, as that means the election has turned very unfair,” Lee said at the rally. “Beijing has no reason to screen out candidates.”

Lau, who won her first Legco election with more than 38,000 votes in Kowloon West in 2016, spent eight minutes delivering her Legco oath in October that year, pausing for five to seven seconds between every word. She was unseated in July last year in a High Court ruling, alongside three other pro-democracy lawmakers, including Edward Yiu Chung-yim.

Declaring her comeback in Sham Shui Po, Lau appeared to be focusing on policy, rather than calling for a backlash to the disqualification.

More than 10 pan-democrats attended the rally, including the Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, the Democratic Party’s Roy Kwong Chun-yu and Demosisto’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung.

Lau’s latest strategy was seen as an effort to learn from what happened to Yiu, who lost to pro-Beijinger Vincent Cheng Wing-shun in a March 11 by-election for a seat in the same constituency. Yiu became the first pro-democracy candidate to lose a Legco by-election to a Beijing loyalist since the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. After the defeat, critics said Yiu did not do enough on-the-ground campaigning or coordinate well with other pro-democracy parties.

Lau may face former television news anchor and political assistant Chan Hoi-yan in the November 25 by-election. 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 one of the city’s busiest cross-harbour tunnels, featuring Chan as its “health ambassador”.

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After raising public attention, Chan resigned from the role last week.

On Thursday, Chan said she had no updates on a possible election run. Sources said Chan would probably announce her bid later in the nomination period, which ends on October 15.

Meanwhile, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, a former pro-democracy lawmaker, has said he would consider joining the race if Lau were to be barred from running.

Several applicants have been barred from elections in recent years, based on officials’ judgments that their beliefs are incompatible with Hong Kong being an inalienable part of China, as is stipulated in the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Most notable among them are localist Edward Leung Tin-kei, Agnes Chow Ting of Demosisto, and Andy Chan Ho-tin, leader of the Hong Kong National Party.