An MTR manager at Prince Edward Station on the night of the August, 2019 police raid incident has nabbed enough nominations to contend in the December “patriots only” Legislative Council (LegCo) election. He will be representing a new political party New Prospect of Hong Kong.

Gary Zhang of New Prospect of Hong Kong. Photo: Gary Zhang via Facebook.

Meeting the press on Thursday, engineer and former MTR station manager Gary Zhang Xin-yu announced that he had obtained the required nominations to vie for a seat in the New Territories North district.

As its executive committee member, the engineer by training will be representing the recently formed “New Prospect of Hong Kong,” comprised mainly of mainland Chinese now living in the city, dubbed “gang piao” in Mandarin.

Two years ago on August 31, baton-wielding riot police stormed Prince Edward MTR station following hours of protest clashes and arrested dozens of protesters and passengers in the station. Monikered the “831 incident,” the event quickly became a flashpoint during the 2019 unrest, as conspiracy theorists claimed people were killed by officers inside the station after medics and reporters were driven out by police. Local investigative news outlet Factwire has since debunked the claim, which was strongly denied by the authorities.

Police stand guards outside Prince Edward MTR station during the memorial of the August 31, 2019 incident. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Zhang, who was on duty at Prince Edward Station at the time of the incident, later posted on Facebook saying “Hongkongers are not rioters”, and called for an independent investigation of the incident. “It was here [in Hong Kong] where I gained knowledge and built my outlook and values in life,” he wrote at the time. HK01 reported at the time that Zhang was a Shanghai native who moved to Hong Kong as a teenager.

The party he represents was first formed in October 2019 during the protests. Its co-founders are lawyer Paul Wang Yu from the firm Haldanes, and Marco Liu Chang, who founded PR company “Hong Kong Asia Cultural Dissemination.” As of September, it had around 100 members including professionals, academics and civil servants. It also placed frequent opinion articles in news outlets including HK01 and the Chinese Edition of the Financial Times to share their views on government policies.

Meeting alongside Wang and Liu, Zhang said his nomination was endorsed by people including microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung and former chief of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Charles Lee, although the group said it had no financial or political backing from the establishment, Stand News reported. Zhang also said he wanted to “remove the use of labels” to indicate where one stands on the political spectrum. “Those who remain will hope Hong Kong can improve,” he said.

‘I don’t know why’

Meanwhile, the political think tank Path of Democracy – led by Executive Council member and former democrat Ronny Tong — has not yet obtained the necessary number of nominations for its election hopefuls.

Ronny Tong. File photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Tong said four of the group’s members were interested in running in geographical constituencies, Stand News reported, but they have not obtained enough nominations from Election Committee members. “I don’t know why – if I did, then I could address it. I don’t think it’s [a problem with] our platform, and it’s shouldn’t be because we aren’t patriotic. What this is about, we won’t dare to speculate,” Tong told the news outlet.

Tong’s campaign manager also resigned, he confirmed, adding to the hurdles the group must jump through before the nomination period ends next Friday.

Following the electoral overhaul imposed by Beijing in March, people hoping to run in the five electoral districts during the legislative race must first obtain between two to four nominations from each of the five Election Committee sub-sectors dominated by pro-establishment figures, meaning a total of 10 to 20 committee nominations, as well as between 100 to 200 nominations from eligible voters belonging to the district.

Most of Hong Kong’s opposition are behind bars, have gone into self-exile, have quit politics or are banned from running.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.