Activist Tommy Cheung said he received support from prominent localist figures to run in the upcoming Legislative Council by-election, hitting back at accusations that he was lying about his endorsements.

Cheung is a candidate in the pro-democracy camp’s primary race, which was launched by the platform Power for Democracy (PfD) earlier this month. The winner of the primary will run in the by-election on March 11.

The activist said on Monday that Ray Wong of Hong Kong Indigenous and disqualified lawmaker Baggio Leung of Youngspiration endorsed him in a meeting with PfD in September. Cheung’s statement was confirmed by district councillor Andrew Chiu and scholar Joseph Cheng, conveners of PfD.

Tommy Cheung
Tommy Cheung. File Photo: In-Media.

“I have to stress that the seat belongs to Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration. We the pro-democracy camp often stresses political ethics… if we do something that violates our ethics and morals, voters will use their own judgment,” he said. He did not name those who questioned his endorsements.

Last year, Edward Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous was barred from running in the New Territories East constituency. Baggio Leung acted as a “substitute candidate” and won, but he was disqualified after the LegCo oath taking row.

Cheung, who formerly belonged to student groups Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said Wong reached out to him in December last year, saying that it would not be enough to rely on the support of young voters and localist voters in taking back the seat. Thus, a candidate acceptable to both localists and the pro-democracy camp should run, Cheung cited Wong as saying.

“I hope to run in the by-election representing both the pro-democracy camp and the localist camp,” he said. Cheung said he did not support Hong Kong independence.

Baggio Leung
Baggio Leung. File Photo: In-Media.

The endorsements were announced at a PfD meeting in September attended by former lawmakers Gary Fan of Neo Democrats – another candidate in the primary – disqualified lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, and former lawmaker Andrew Cheng.

Cheung said he and PfD agreed to not reveal the endorsements to reduce the chances of the government barring him from running in the by-election.

“Recently I asked the [pro-democracy] parties and they said the endorsements were not obvious. PfD may not have explained the whole issue to them. But I have to respond after the attacks against me,” he said.

Cheung said if he wins the by-election, he will donate half of his wages to funds supporting protesters, and he will not seek re-election in 2020, since the disqualification of lawmakers was “unjust” and he did not wish to take advantage of it.

Cheung is one of the nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests facing public nuisance charges.

Joseph Cheng Gary Fan Kwok Wing-kin Tommy Cheung Andrew Chiu
From left: Joseph Cheng, Gary Fan, Kwok Wing-kin, Tommy Cheung, Andrew Chiu. File Photo: In-Media.

A generic ballot vote for the primary election will be held on January 14. Labour Party chair Kwok Wing-kin is the other candidate in the primary.

Former Federation of Trade Union lawmaker Bill Tang is tipped to run in the by-election.

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.