District Councillor Paul Zimmerman has announced he will run in the Legislative Council by-election in March to fill a seat previously held by disqualified lawmaker Edward Yiu.

He will run in the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, which Yiu – a pro-democracy figure – won in 2016.

Zimmerman, CEO of the group Designing Hong Kong, was supported by Yiu, pro-democracy lawmakers and industry professionals during his announcement on Sunday. “I hope, I trust that we have a good winning chance for retaining this seat,” he said.

Paul Zimmerman. Photo: In-Media.

Yiu said that, in the race for the chief executive election committee in 2016, Zimmerman received more votes than him in the sector: “There’s no need to worry.”

Functional constituencies consist of professional or special interest groups. Thirty of the 70 seats in the legislature are elected by Hong Kong’s 28 functional constituencies, with another five from the District Council (Second) functional constituency.


Zimmerman does not hold a professional qualification in any of the four areas of the sector. The Legislative Council Ordinance stipulates that candidates must be a registered voter of the sector, or have a substantial connection with the functional constituency.

See also: Hong Kong’s March 11 legislative by-elections: Meet the potential candidates

The CoVision team, a group of industry professionals which Zimmerman is a part of, said that – although he was not a sector voter, he has formed several groups related to planning. Plus, he was a member of the Harbourfront Commission, thus has unquestionable connections to the constituency.

CoVision also said Zimmerman received 2,500 votes as the “king of votes” in the race for the chief executive election committee, thus they believed the Electoral Affairs Commission will adopt the same principle and allow Zimmerman to run.

Paul Zimmerman, lawmakers and the CoVision team. Photo: In-Media.

Zimmerman said he has reached an agreement with the Democratic Party’s Stanley Ng, ensuring he will be the only candidate representing the pro-democracy camp in the election.

Ng reportedly invited former financial secretary John Tsang to run in the sector but Tsang refused, thus he considered running himself. Nevertheless, Zimmerman said he believes Ng will keep his promise and not join the race.

The nomination period begins on Tuesday, ahead of the public vote on March 11.

Edward Yiu and Paul Zimmerman. Photo: In-Media.

Yiu has switched constituencies to join the pro-democracy camp primary election for Kowloon West.

In 2016, Yiu won partly following an internal fight within the pro-Beijing camp. Yiu received 2,491 votes, beating two pro-Beijing candidates. Former sector lawmaker Tony Tse received 2,009 votes and Bernard Lim received 1,235 votes. Yiu was subsequently ousted from the legislature for protesting during his oath-taking.

Tse is tipped to run in the sector again.

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.