A pro-democracy camp primary election for the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections will be conducted via polls and a general ballot vote.

The primary election for seats in the the Kowloon West and the New Territories East constituencies will be conducted in three parts: a generic ballot vote on January 14, telephone polls, and voting by parties and civil groups that participated in the primary. The first two parts will count for 45 per cent each, and the last part will count for 10 per cent in the final result.

Disqualified lawmaker Edward Yiu, activist Ken Tsang, Democratic Party district councillor Ramon Yuen and Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood former lawmaker Frederick Fung put their names in for the vacant seat in Kowloon West. But Tsang announced on Tuesday that he will withdraw from the primary to support Yiu.

Second from left: Steven Kwok, Tommy Cheung, Gary Fan, Ramon Yuen, Frederick Fung, Ken Tsang, Edward Yiu. Photo: In-Media.

“A disqualified lawmaker has priority to run,” he said. “Most importantly, he can unite the pro-democracy camp against disqualification, so that the camp can retake all its seats and fight against the government’s authoritarian rule.”

He said if the primary for the Kowloon West seat goes ahead despite Yiu’s participation, it will only create meaningless competition and conflict, straying from its original intention.

Vows of support

Neo Democrats former lawmaker Gary Fan, former Occupy protests student leader Tommy Cheung and Labour Party chairman Steven Kwok are candidates for the seat in New Territories East.

Disqualified lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, who was elected in the Kowloon West constituency, said she will respect the results of the primary and will not state her support for any candidate at this stage.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu said the camp hoped to use the primary to campaign against the changing of the legislature’s rules, the national anthem law, the joint checkpoint arrangement and the national security law: “I hope candidates can, through debates, lead the direction for the pro-democracy camp and the democratic movement.”

Pro-democracy lawmakers and others supporting the primary. Photo: In-Media.

The ballot vote and telephone polls will be conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP).

Andrew Chiu, convener of the mediating platform Power for Democracy, which organised the primary, said all candidates in the primary have signed an agreement stating that they will support the winners: “We have full confidence that all participants will follow the rules.”

If the winner of the primary is disqualified from running by the government, the runner-up will take their place, and so on.

The platform will mediate if those who were not selected in the primary still register for the by-election, and it may issue “strong condemnations” if such scenarios occur.

Poll constraints

Chiu said HKUPOP will adjust its data to better fit with reality, when asked why 80 per cent of the telephone poll will be conducted through calls to landline numbers, rather than mobile numbers.

He said he was not concerned about interference by the pro-Beijing camp in the polls: “Our past experience was that they will not join in anything related to the pro-democracy camp.”

The cost of the primary will be around HK$500,000. Chiu said three polling stations will be set up for Kowloon West and four will be set up for New Territories East due to limited resources and venue requirements.

Two forums will take place on Sunday. The forum for Kowloon West will be held in the morning, and that for New Territories East will be held in the afternoon.

Kris Cheng

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.