Student activist group Scholarism has stated that it will not endorse any candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council by-election, saying that the decision was made in order to “maintain the group’s independence”.

Prince Wong Ji-yuet, spokesperson of the group, made the comment on Facebook on Thursday afternoon. It came amid heated debate among pro-democracy and localism groups over whether to vote for Edward Leung Tin-kei, spokesperson of localism group Hong Kong Indigenous, or Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, a young member of the pro-democracy Civic Party.

The announcement was posted by Prince Wong on Thursday afternoon.

Yeung is a practicing barrister and is considered to be the natural successor to Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a founding member of the party who stepped down in June 2015 and effectively triggered the by-election. Yeung has already received support from most of the pro-democracy legislators, and is widely seen as the whole camp’s candidate in this by-election.

Leung, who is currently studying at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), is a prominent figure in Hong Kong Indigenous, a localist group founded after the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. He has been an advocate of a break away from old methods of resistance to protect Hong Kong’s indigenous values. He was also one of the members of the group who were arrested last week for participating in the Mong Kok clashes.

Leung Tin-kei.

Some commentators have claimed that Leung has a very low chance of winning the by-election, and that supporters of localism groups should consider the “overall interest” and vote for Yeung. They said they wanted to ensure that Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-chairman of the pro-Beijing DAB party, does not get the contested seat.

Others, such as Roy Tsui Ka-ho, the founder of satirical magazine 100Most (better known by his pen name Lam Yat-hei), called on supporters to “ignore the tactics of vote allocation” and simply vote for the candidate that they like the best.

100Most founder Lam Yat-hei urging voters to “ignore the tactics of vote allocation” in the by-election.

James Tien Pei-chun, a veteran legislative councillor, predicted on Wednesday that Chow will win the by-election, as the pan-democratic camp was divided.

Chow, a new star of the DAB party, has said that he will try to change the Rules of Procedure in the legislature to block filibustering if he is elected.

Holden Chow. File Photo: Stand News.

The by-election will take place in the New Territories (East) constituency on February 28. According to the Electoral Affairs Commission, all 940,000 registered voters in the district are eligible to cast their votes.

The elected individual will only serve in the seat for a few months, before the general election for LegCo is held in September.

A total of seven candidates are contesting the single seat in the by-election. They are: Third Side’s Wong Sing-chi, DAB’s Holden Chow Ho-ding, Hong Kong Indigenous’s Edward Leung Tin-kei, Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, and independent candidates Lau Chi-shing, Albert Leung Sze-ho and Christine Fong Kwok-shan.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).