The pro-establishment New People’s Party (NPP) in Hong Kong has announced that five of its members will contend the city’s first “patriots only” legislative election in December, as candidates vowed to tackle “deep-rooted” livelihood issues after the national security law “restored social stability.”
Sitting in front of a backdrop featuring the slogan “One Country Two Systems works for you,” NPP chairwoman Regina Ip on Wednesday announced she would seek her fourth term in the Legislative Council (LegCo) by running in the direct election in the redefined Hong Kong Island West constituency.
The former security minister said she will try her best to win re-election after serving in the legislature for 13 years. However, it is unlikely that Ip will throw her hat into the ring to become the LegCo president, as she described herself as being “very unsuitable” for the role.
“The president has to handle a lot of procedural issues, like housekeeping. I’m not even interested in the housekeeping tasks at my home, let alone the home in LegCo. I’ve always preferred studying policy,” she said.
Asked if entering the newly-restricted legislative race means she will not stand in the Chief Executive election next March, Ip said it was too early to comment.
She is expected to go head to head against the DAB’s Chan Hok-fung and Fong Lung-fei – who identified himself as a pro-democracy independent candidate – for the two spots in the district. The competition may heat up if more election hopefuls sign up before the nomination period ends next Friday.
The election scheduled for December 19 will be Hong Kong’s first general polls since it passed a Beijing-steered electoral overhaul in May, which aims to ensure only “patriots” hold power in the city. The sweeping amendments reduced democratic representation in the legislature and introduced a vetting panel to subject candidates to national security checks. Most opposition figures remain behind bars, have fled the city, have quit politics or are barred from running.
The New People’s Party will send former district councillor Dominic Lee to contest New Territories North East. Lee served in the Sham Shui Po District Council between 2015 and 2019, but lost his seat in the 2019 election, when pro-democracy candidates landed a historic victory.
Lee said the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019 unveiled a lot of political problems in Hong Kong, which were later tackled by the security legislation and the electoral revamp. But some deep-rooted livelihood issues remained, he said, such as income inequality, housing shortages and insufficient upward social mobility for young people.
“This is why so many people took to the streets in 2019, those were the catalysts and reasons. A public representative must respond to people’s expectations by urging the government to resolve these issues,” he said.
Lawmaker Eunice Yung, on the other hand, will turn away from the geographical constituency and strive for a seat in the LegCo via the 1,500-member Election Committee. The lawyer, who has served in the legislature for five years, vowed to use her professional expertise to facilitate the development of Hong Kong, as well as capitalise on the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.
“I will continue to take a professional and rational attitude and pay attention to the problems faced by different sectors in the new era,” she said.
Ex-district councillor Judy Chan will join Yung in seeking a legislative seat through the powerful committee that will select 40 legislators. She pledged to make Hong Kong “more liveable” by seizing opportunities under One Country, Two Systems and by promoting the city’s integration into China’s national development.
“I hope I get a chance to… make Hong Kong great again in the next stage of our development,” she said.
The fifth candidate from the NPP is Marcus Liu, who will vie for a seat in the Hong Kong Island East district, following his defeat in the former New Territories East constituency back in 2016. He also took part in the 2019 District Council election, but lost to democrat Clarisse Yeung in the Tai Hang constituency.
“The society in Hong Kong was very torn apart – it was divided into the blue economic circle and the yellow economic circle. This is something that I don’t want to see,” Liu said, referring to the practice of some Hongkongers who visit pro-government or pro-democracy shops based on their political stance, while boycotting the ones from the other side of the political spectrum.
Party leader Ip admitted it was difficult to gather nominations, but election hopefuls from the party managed to secure enough. They will officially sign up to run in the LegCo polls in the coming days, she said.
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