Pro-democracy politicians have bowed in apology over the results of Sunday’s Legislative Council by-election after losing a seat in the Kowloon West constituency.

Disqualified lawmaker Edward Yiu, who was previously a legislator with the architecture sector, ran in the Kowloon West constituency in the by-election. He lost to his pro-Beijing rival Vincent Cheng by a narrow margin of around 2,400 votes.

The pro-democracy camp bowed in apology on Monday. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, the camp’s convener Charles Mok expressed his apologies, saying that they had let voters down: “We will definitely reflect deeply and review this experience – what areas we have failed to do enough, [and] what areas we could do better in the future.”

Mok also urged all of their supporters to remain united: “There are still many battles to fight in the future, inside and outside the legislature,” he said, adding that controversial bills such as the joint checkpoint arrangement and the national security law are coming up soon.

Photo: In-Media.

Responding to the pro-establishment camp’s claim that the election results show the public supported the government’s move to disqualify lawmakers, Mok said it was an attempt at “diverting attention.”

“[I]n this election, it is very clear that in two of the three districts, voters have sent a clear message that the pro-democracy camp won.”

“I think if the pro-establishment camp use this as a reason to make this accusation – which I would not repeat – I think it’s very disrespectful to hundreds of thousands of voters,” he said.

On Hong Kong Island, pro-democracy candidate Au Nok-hin defeated the New People’s Party’s Judy Chan, while Gary Fan secured a victory over pro-Beijing candidate Bill Tang in New Territories East.

Edward Yiu and Charles Mok. Photo: In-Media.

Calling the defeat a warning sign, Mok said even though they lost the seat, the camp believes they have done their best.

Yiu denied rumours that he lost due to what was referred to as a “scorched-earth tactic”, and said the three estates where he received a low number of votes were places where he failed to frequently campaign. Localists had called upon supporters to cast a blank vote, or not vote at all, rather than to endorse the pro-democracy camp’s candidates in the election.

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.

The by-election was triggered after four lawmakers were ousted by the High Court in 2016 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 their election. Ex-lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai are still appealing their disqualifications. Democrats regained only two of the vacated seats on Sunday.

A full round-up of our by-election stories:

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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.