Labour Party veteran Lee Cheuk-yan given green light to run in November’s Legco by-election
Lee informed that he will be able to stand for the pro-democracy camp in the Kowloon West geographical constituency, following the barring of party colleague Lau Siu-lai last week
Labour Party veteran Lee Cheuk-yan was given a last-minute green light on Thursday to represent the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council by-election on November 25.
In a notice from returning officer Franco Kwok Wai-fun for the Kowloon West geographical constituency on Thursday evening, Lee was informed that his nomination as a candidate in the by-election was validated.
The validation came just two working days ahead of a candidate briefing on Monday.
The former lawmaker filed his nomination last Friday, hours before ousted pan-democratic lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, his party colleague, was banned from running for a seat in the constituency by Kwok on the grounds that she once advocated self-determination for Hong Kong.
Before Lau was banned, Lee had been prepared to serve as the “plan B” candidate should Lau be barred from the race.
Lau was one of six lawmakers removed from the Legislative Council in 2016 and 2017 for improperly taking their oaths.
Before Lee was validated, fears loomed that he might also be barred from the by-election for his core positions over the years in the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which has long called for an end to “one-party dictatorship” in China.
The fear was triggered after Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, warned in March that Hongkongers who chant slogans urging an end to “one-party dictatorship” will run the risk of being disqualified from future elections.
His remarks came a week after the national legislature at the time passed constitutional amendments that further underlined the undisputed authority of the Communist Party.
Asked if Lee’s case has disproved his initial theory, Tam on Thursday said he would not speculate what the returning officer had factored into his consideration.
“All I was saying at the time in the interview is that returning officer has to power to decide, and the situation has changed following the constitutional amendment,” Tam said.
Tam said the political “redline” in Hong Kong remained – that any advocates of independence or “self-determination” should not be able to run in polls. He repeatedly declined to comment if this has proven that candidates who are anti-Communist Party are safe to run.
But Lee could hardly breathe a sigh of relief after the validation as he is set to face an uphill battle against former journalist Chan Hoi-yan, the candidate endorsed by the pro-establishment camp.
He is also running against another pan-democratic veteran Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who was previously with the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood.
The Post understood that while Lee and Lau would continue join forces to protest Lau’s disqualification, Lee would focus most of his effort in his campaign against city leader’s ambitious reclamation proposal east of Lantau Island.
Government source previous estimated the development could cost up to HK$500 billion (US$63.8billion).
The high-cost behind the mega-project would be straightforward for voters to understand, as opposed to the convoluted political implications behind lawmakers’ disqualifications, one political source close to Lee said.
Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said earlier that it would be tougher than ever for the pro-democracy bloc to recapture the seat.
Fung was set to snatch a number of votes from the pan-democratic camp, Choy said, while Lee’s age and union background might also be less appealing to young and middle-class voters.
Ng Dick-hay and Judy Tzeng Li-wen had also signed up for the race.
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum