Pro-establishment lawmaker-elect Michael Tien has questioned whether competition in future the Legislative Council will be healthy as Beijing wanted, saying that some of his own camp were “slapping unfair labels” on each other during the “patriots only” election.

Michael Tien
File Photo: Ocean Tham/HKFP.

The veteran politician said that some pro-establishment figures – knowing they would likely be elected with the support of their parties – “still ‘slapped unfair labels’ and ‘mud-wrestled’ in order to win the most ballots.”

Tien and all directly-elected Geographical Constituency candidates, as voted for by the public on Sunday, met the press on Wednesday. Tien was elected with 40,009 votes in Kowloon Central while 93,195 voted for his competitor Holden Chow in last Sunday’s “patriots only” election.

The self-declared “non-pro-establishment” candidate Tam Heung Man only received 8,028 votes, whilst most pro-democracy figures remained behind bars, in self-exile abroad or were barred from running.

“What is in the past is already passed,” Chow said following the newly-restricted polls, “I hope to gather support from every colleague in the council, and join forces to push forward [people’s livelihood].”

Holden Chow.
Holden Chow. File photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

On December 8, Chow accused Tien of being a “traitor” and “fence-sitter” during a public debate hosted by broadcaster RTHK. He then apologised to Tien during two election forums on Commercial Radio and NowTV.

On NowTV, Tien said “his principle is to accept apologies from anyone.”

‘All are pro-establishment’

Pro-establishment candidates were swept into the legislature during Hong Kong’s first election last Sunday, after a Beijing-led revamp in May reduced democratic representation.

The only self-proclaimed “non-pro-establishment” candidate voted in was Tik Chi-yuen, who won in the Social Welfare sector in Functional Constituency.

new legco

Stanley Ng, president of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions and lawmaker-elect told reporters that “anyone who ran in the election was part of the pro-establishment [camp].” He added, however, that the lawmakers-elect present at the conference all had different political ideals.

2021 LegCo Election: Stanley Ng Chau-pei, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Unions, is canvassing in Siu sai wan.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Unions, is canvassing in Siu Sai Wan. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

However, Connie Lam representing the Professional Power Limited refused to describe herself as “pro-establishment” and said she stood for “people’s livelihoods” – an idea that is relevant “across the political spectrum.”

Debate on low turnout

The December 19 legislative race yielded the lowest turnout rate yet. The city’s leader Carrie Lam played down the poor turnout, saying that elected candidates for the Legislative Council were diverse. Previously, she suggested to state media that a poor showing at the pools could mean that Hongkongers supported her administrations.

However, Michael Tien said that “if turnout rate is high, it means the council is successful. I do not agree much with the Chief Executive saying that people were satisfied so they did not show up to vote.”

He added that to strive for a high turnout would be an important mission for the future legislature.

2021 LegCo Election: New People's Party chief Regina Ip, who is running in the Hong Kong Island West district, canvassed in Aberdeen on Sunday morning.
New People’s Party chief Regina Ip, who is running in the Hong Kong Island West district, canvassed in Aberdeen on Sunday morning. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Meanwhile, re-elected lawmaker Regina Ip said a high turnout was not necessarily a good thing: “[W]e saw in the past some people had stirred up voter’s emotions to boost turnout, which made society more divided.”

Ip was referring the record-turnout during the 2019 district council elections, which saw democrats sweep the board.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.