Ousted lawmaker Edward Yiu and ex-legislator Gary Fan have won the pro-democracy camp primary election held on Sunday in the Kowloon West and New Territories East constituencies.
More than 26,000 Hongkongers voted in the primary to choose one candidate to run in each area ahead of the March 11 Legislative Council by-election. The nomination period will officially begin on Tuesday.
The pro-democracy camp has agreed to run just one candidate for each vacant seat in order to avoid vote splitting and maximize their chances against the pro-Beijing camp. The Sunday vote accounted for 45 per cent of the primary results. The results also incorporated phone surveys conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme – which accounted for another 45 per cent of the result. Votes from participating pro-democracy organisations accounted for the remaining 10 per cent.
Gary Fan praised the primary mechanism whereby 90 per cent of the result was decided by the public: “This is only half-time in sports matches – we have a lot of hard work to do before March 11” he said.
Yiu said he would begin work immediately. “Some waited for 45 minutes or even an hour, but they persisted to vote. This is the spirit under the current authoritarian regime,” he said. “It proves that Hong Kong people oppose the Basic Law interpretation of Beijing and the disqualification of lawmakers.”
Power for Democracy convener Andrew Chiu said they received 15 election complaints on Sunday, and the race was “very energetic.”
Robert Chung, director of the Public Opinion Programme, thanked the public for having patience with the long queues to vote, and thanked the police for approving the polling stations in time: “It is not a simple job to conduct the primary,” he said. “I also thank anyone who did not join the vote – or those who did not agree with the vote – for allowing it to happen peacefully.”
“So far we have been helping the pro-democracy camp. But if any other camp wishes for our help, we will welcome it,” he added.
Yiu, one of the six disqualified lawmakers, was up against Democratic Party District Councillor Ramon Yuen and Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood former lawmaker Frederick Fung in the primary election for the Kowloon West constituency.
“The high turnout yesterday tells the government my clear mandate. I believe the government will not dare to disqualify me,” Yiu said. His opponent, Fung, said they must work together: “Our biggest enemy is the pro-Beijing camp.”
For New Territories East, Fan – of the Neo Democrats – beat Labour Party Chairperson Steven Kwok and former student leader Tommy Cheung.
Cheung said pro-democracy camp supporters must now support Gary Fan: “We must not disappoint our supporters.” He added that the camp must also face the demands of other pro-democracy contenders who did not join the primary in order to support all “political prisoners.”
For the two remaining vacant seats to be contested on March 11, the pro-democracy camp decided to send Demosisto’s Agnes Chow for the Hong Kong Island constituency and Paul Zimmerman for the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency.
The March by-elections are taking place to replace four lawmakers ousted by courts over the controversial ways in which they took their oaths of office. Six lawmakers were disqualified by the courts in total, but two appeals filed by Lau Siu-lai and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung have yet to be completed.
Organisers Power for Democracy originally only expected some 8,000 votes from the eight polling stations. Professor Joseph Cheng, one of the group’s conveners, said the group did not have enough resources to host more polling stations, each of which cost HK$100,000. He also said the group had not done enough to promote the primary election.
On the pro-Beijing side, Judy Chan of New People’s Party has announced her run for Hong Kong Island.
Vincent Cheng and Bill Tang of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong are expected to announce their candidacies for the Kowloon West and New Territories East constituency respectively on Monday night. Former lawmaker Tony Tse is tipped to run for the architectural sector seat.