Localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei and independent Christine Fong Kwok-Shan have expressed confidence as voting kicks off in the New Territories East by-election. Polls conducted last week suggested a runoff between the pro-democracy Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and pro-Beijing candidates, the DAB’s Holden Chow Ho-ting.

Leung represents Hong Kong Indigenous, a localist group which promotes the expansion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and independence, while Fong is running as an independent candidate. Sunday’s by-election was triggered by Ronny Tong Ka-wah’s resignation from the Legislative Council in June last year. He left his New Territories East seat last September.

The two candidates were campaigning outside the Tai Wai MTR station on Sunday.

“I am calm and I have confidence in the probability of winning,” Leung said. “But actually these evaluations are not very important, because even if you think you have a high chance of winning or a low chance of winning, you will still have to work hard…I think I have an advantage [in that] I speak what I believe in and I do what I believe in and if Hong Kong people, voters, see this, they will naturally vote for me.”

Edward Leung Tin-kei
Edward Leung Tin-kei. Photo: Chantal Yuen/HKFP.

Leung added: “[The election] is important because every vote counts, every vote [lets] you determine the future of Hong Kong… I will have to defend our Hong Kong people’s interests and Hong Kong people’s rights, to fight against every unjust motion by any means necessary.”

A signal to the government 

Wong Yeung-tat, supporter of Leung and founder of localist group Civic Passion, said: “Even if Leung gets a high number of votes, there will be an influence on Hong Kong politics. It will send a signal to the government that citizens want more enthusiastic or more extreme methods against the government.”

When asked  how he interpreted this week’s polls, Wong said: “Firstly, by my election experience, I don’t believe in the polls. Secondly, I believe that the election politics and political environment right now… it’s not easy to just separate politics into simply pan-democrats or pro-establishment… A pan-democrat [candidate] getting into the Legislative Council and a pro-establishment [candidate] getting into the Legislative Council, it is not a big difference in our view.”

Fong expressed similar confidence in the polling results: “I’m very happy and joyful, because I’m […] expecting to receive a good performance and good record… I am full of confidence,” she said.

Christine Fong Kwok-Shan
Christine Fong Kwok-Shan. Photo: Chantal Yuen/HKFP.

When asked about Edward Leung’s stance on “brave resistance,” Fong said: “I have eight years [of] protest [experience] with different residents in Hong Kong, Hong Kong people. And my protests are rational and reasonable… and it worked!”

“I respect Edward, their bravery and courage to speak out and get involved more, participate more in political issues and put more concern on the livelihood issues… but have to be rather rational because it will [be a] drawback for the Hong Kong people,” she said.

Rationality ‘no use’

Amon Ma, a designer and a campaigner for Leung, said: “We are different. We want success… If you are reasonable and rational – we didn’t start out opposing that – but we’ve already done it for so many years and it has no use. “Brave resistance” is something that is forced out of us… Against an authoritarian government, [being rational and reasonable] is of no use.”

Campaigners at Hang Hau
Campaigners at Hang Hau. Photo: Chantal Yuen/HKFP.

Meanwhile, Pang Wing-hong, also a designer, said he is campaigning for Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, because of his knowledge of the law.

“[It is] not because I was once arrested at North Point and during a sit-in,” he said. “The most important thing is that he showed clearly that he was knowledgeable [of] law when he spoke on D-100 and other internet radio shows. He has a belief and he will protest at the Legislative Council.”

Chiu Ting, who runs a business and campaigns for Chow, said that she believed that she would facilitate conversation between with the government. “I don’t want Hong Kong to be messy,” she said.

Close race

The candidates of the New Territories East by-election include Lau Chi-Shing, Nelson Wong Sing-chi, Holden Chow Ho-ding, Albert Leung Sze-ho, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Edward Leung Tin-kei and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu.

The government announced that the voter turnout rate was 147,716 – or 15.71% – as of 1:30pm. Previous polls forecasted a high voter turn-out and a close race between Yeung and Chow.

chantal yuen

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.