Pro-democracy candidate Edward Yiu has said his by-election defeat was caused by campaigning failures and his inexperience in direct local elections.
He lost to pro-Beijing district councillor Vincent Cheng by 2,419 votes out of a total of 215,333 ballots cast in the Kowloon West district – just one per cent of the total votes cast. There was little difference in the results after Yiu asked for a recount in the early hours of Monday.
Yiu said he had to bear all responsibility for the setback: “It would be related to my failure in my campaign arrangements.”
Yiu suffered heavy losses in the Kowloon City region, including at two polling stations located in the Kai Tak area’s public housing estates, where he lost by 1,749 votes to Cheng.
Yiu was a lawmaker in the small-circle architectural sector before he was disqualified by a court over protests he made during his oath of allegiance in 2016.
Yiu received 105,060 votes – far fewer than the 160,678 total received by all pro-democracy candidates in Kowloon West during the 2016 general legislative race. Cheng received 107,419 votes – comparable to 102,286 votes that his camp’s Priscilla Leung and Ann Chiang received in 2016.
Yiu said he did not believe the switch to the Kowloon West constituency – a move often described as parachuting – was the reason for his loss: “It is fine to parachute into a district. But the issue was that I did not have experience in geographical direct elections,” he said.
“I received lots of advice from many friends. But the final decision [on campaign plans] was made by me,” he said.
“I may not have gone to some stations as much as I should. I may not have put up an adequate amount of posters and banners. We will reflect on that.”
He denied he overestimated the effect of calling for the public to cast protest votes over the disqualification of lawmakers: “Aside from the political element, we have also stressed the livelihood issues of local districts.”
“We did not underestimate the enemy. We have put in a full effort. It’s just that I did not have the experience and I had made inadequate arrangements.”
“We started our campaign too late… We had to wait until my confirmation of my declaration from the returning officer on January 29.”
He denied his campaign had neglected grassroots voters. Asked if the public no longer supported the pro-democracy camp after the disqualification of lawmakers, Yiu said that democrats had won two out of the three seats in the geographical constituencies: “Our loss of some 2,000 votes was only because of my failure in campaigning.”
Yiu saw losses at some polling stations in areas which were traditionally strongholds of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL).
He denied that the ADPL had failed to help him in the campaign. Party veteran Frederick Fung – whom Yiu beat in the pro-democracy camp’s primary election – saw pressure from Yiu’s supporters to give up his status as a substitute candidate.
“All parties have put in a lot of effort,” he said. “Their district councillors have been supporting me in the past period of time.”
“It clearly reflects that citizens in Hong Kong are very angry about the disqualification decision of the government, and the result today is a strong signal to the government,” he said.
The legislature now consists of 26 pro-democracy and 42 pro-Beijing candidates, meaning democrats still lack the power to veto bills, motions and amendments raised by other lawmakers.
Pro-democracy camp convener Charles Mok said the defeat had a direct effect on the veto power of democrats: “It is hard to tell whether the pro-Beijing camp will try to change the legislature’s rules again,” Mok said.
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