Pro-Beijing lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin has said that ousted legislator Edward Yiu’s defeat in the Legislative Council by-election shows that “the public believes the government was not incorrect” in disqualifying lawmakers.

Wong’s comments came after the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camp each took two seats in Sunday’s by-election, which saw one of the lowest ever turnouts. They were held to fill four seats previously vacated over the 2016 oath-taking row, with Edward Yiu being one of the legislators ousted over protests he made during his oath of allegiance.

FTU lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin. File Photo: In-Media.

In the Kowloon West constituency, the DAB’s Vincent Cheng beat Yiu by 2,419 votes – just one per cent of the total 215,333 votes cast. However, in New Territories East, the pan-democratic candidate Gary Fan defeated the pro-establishment camp’s Bill Tang with a margin of 27,858 votes.

At a press conference on Monday, Wong – who belongs to the Federation of Trade Unions – said that the unity of the pro-establishment camp was at the “beginning of a success” and that he hoped such cooperation would continue.

Edward Yiu and Vincent Cheng. Photo: In-Media.

“[Cheng’s] victory in Kowloon West has a very important significance. At the beginning of the election, there were those who wished to manipulate the election to make it was a referendum on the [disqualification] incident. And during the election, disqualification has always been a topic,” he said.

Wong added that, since Cheng’s opponent was “a protagonist in the disqualification case,” Cheng’s victory shows that the public backed the government.

See also: Hong Kong democrats win 2 of 4 seats in legislative by-election, as ousted lawmaker Edward Yiu fails to regain seat

The overall turnout for the three geographical constituencies – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West, and New Territories East – stood at 43 per cent, one of the lowest in recent elections. The turnout for the small-circle Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency stood at 70 per cent – around nine per cent lower than in the 2016 general legislative election.

Starry Lee. File photo: In-Media.

DAB praises unity

Starry Lee – chairwoman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – told reporters that the election results were “the result of the pro-establishment camp being united.” She thanked organisations, parties and friends who supported the camp.

Lee also said that the result was within expectations and there was a breakthrough, adding that she believed the result reflected the will of the public who wished to see the legislature return to normal.

“From the election results, I think it very clear shows one message on the part of the public – the public does not approve of legislators engaging in ‘tricks’ during the oath-ceremony or failing to do it in accordance with the law,” she said.

The legislature now consists of 26 pro-democracy and 42 pro-Beijing candidates, meaning democrats still lack the power to veto legislation.

The four seats were vacated after four lawmakers were ousted by the High Court following an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law by Beijing. They were among six who faced legal action for inappropriately taking their oaths of office upon initially being elected in 2016. Ex-lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai are still appealing their disqualifications.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.