The Democratic Party candidate for a District Council by-election next week has said she is in a difficult race as her opponents are claiming to be pro-democracy or independent in order to gain votes.

By-elections are set to take place next Sunday in the Central and Western district across two constituencies – Tung Wah and the Peak. Their former pro-Beijing district councillors Kathy Siu and Joseph Chan resigned to join the government in the middle of their terms.

In Tung Wah, the Democratic Party’s Bonnie Ng is up against two independent candidates including Ambrose Lui, who is supported by several pro-Beijing lawmakers, and Olivia Lau, a former Labour Party member.

Bonnie Ng Edward Chin
Bonnie Ng and Edward Chin.

“Someone pretends to be independent, and someone pretends to be pro-democracy. The public needs to view candidates with clear eyes, who is really pro-democracy, who will really stay in the district to serve,” Ng said at an event attended by several pro-democracy lawmakers on Monday.

She said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the race: “We see residents supporting us at street stands, so we do have a chance. But we need residents to come out to vote.”

At an event on Sunday, Lui, a primary school principal, was supported by pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por. He is also supported by pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip, former health secretary Ko Wing-man, among others.

Ambrose Lui Regina Ip
Independent candidate Ambrose Lui is supported by pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip. Photo: In-Media.

He said that Ng had been conducting “political smearing” and that he was only a non-affiliated “small potato.”

“Is the definition of pro-democracy and pro-establishment just up to the Democratic Party?” he said. He added that he only sought support from political figures that he respected.

Vote snatching?

In the 2015 District Council election, Olivia Lau – then-Labour Party member – joined the race in a Kowloon City constituency at the last minute as an independent candidate. She was competing against a pro-Beijing and a pro-democracy candidate. The move was condemned by her party out of fears it would hand the opposition a win.

Lau received 148 votes, in a race where the pro-democracy candidate won by only 45 votes.

Olivia Lau
A pamphlet of Olivia Lau. Photo: Facebook.

Peak traffic

Meanwhile, pro-democracy activist Edward Chin is facing Jeremy Young, a pro-Beijing Liberal Party member in the Peak constituency.

Both Chin, a hedge fund manager and Occupy movement supporter, and Young, the former political assistant for the secretary for education, focused on traffic issues in the area.

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Posted by Jeremy Young 楊哲安 on Monday, 13 November 2017

Chin suggested that large buses should not be allowed on The Peak and parents should be banned from driving private cars to take children to and from school. He said 24-seat minibuses should replace them, in order to resolve the congestion issue.

But Young, who said he has lived on the Peak for many years, said he disagreed with Chin’s suggestions. He said the road conditions should be optimised to allow for a better flow of construction trucks to ease the traffic.

Bonnie Ng
Bonnie Ng (third from left) Edward Chin (fourth) and pro-democracy lawmakers.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung said the election on Sunday will be a preliminary match between the democrats and the pro-Beijing camp before the Legislative Council by-election next year.

He said a higher turnout would help the two pro-democracy candidates, and it would boost the confidence of democrats in the upcoming by-elections where they hope to regain six legislative seats if they win.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.