Ex-lawmaker Frederick Fung has announced he will not be a substitute candidate in the Legislative Council by-election Kowloon West constituency in March, should Edward Yiu be barred from running.
Fung was ranked second in the January 14 pro-democracy camp primary election, losing by a large margin to the winner, Yiu, who received more than 75 per cent of the vote. It has been uncertain as to whether Yiu, a previously disqualified lawmaker, would be allowed to run. In such a scenario, Fung could have been a substitute candidate.
Fung’s low level of support was considered unfavourable by some in his camp, namely lawmaker Eddie Chu who said Fung’s run could harm the camp’s morale and chances. But some also supported him, saying that the primary mechanism should be respected.
“It is not worthwhile to cause splits as we discuss Plan B,” Fung said on Monday. “Now, we only have one task – to support Edward Yiu in the March 11 election.”
Fung said that, since the result was announced last Monday, there has been a lot of discussion, attacks and conflict. “I was not happy about the attacks on my family,” he said.
During weekend discussions with his party – the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood – he raised the prospect of relinquishing his status as a substitute candidate. The party agreed, and Fung stated that they did not apply any pressure and he had no regrets.
The March by-elections are taking place to replace four lawmakers ousted by courts over the controversial ways in which they took their oaths of office. Six lawmakers were disqualified by the courts in total, but two appeals filed by Lau Siu-lai and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung have yet to be completed.
In the 2016 legislative election, civil servants barred five contenders from running because they did not accept that they would uphold the Basic Law – a proviso for entering the race. Candidates were also asked to sign pledges in which they promise to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Despite stepping aside, Fung said the primaries mechanism should be followed and Democratic Party District Councillor Ramon Yuen – the third-placed candidate – should replace Yiu if he is barred.
“To unite the pro-democracy camp, the primary mechanism cannot be overthrown,” Fung said.
Andrew Chiu, convener of the primary election organiser Power for Democracy, said he respected Fung’s decision, though it was not the right time to discuss who would be the substitute: “The public and the media should put pressure on the government to block the government from cancelling the candidacy of our representative for political reasons,” he said.
He added that Power for Democracy will host a meeting with stakeholders who signed the primary election agreement in order to discuss plans.
Yuen also said he respected Fung’s decision, and said it was unfair that Fung received attacks and pressure after the primary. Yuen said he will wait for the Power for Democracy meeting and his party’s Thursday central committee meeting to decide whether he will be the substitute. He added he has been supporting Edward Yiu since the primary.
Yiu said he will follow Power for Democracy’s decision.
Former lawmaker Alan Leong has been considered by the pro-democracy camp as a substitute candidate should Yiu be barred, but he says he has not yet made a decision.
Yiu and District Councillor Vincent Cheng of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong have submitted their nomination forms to run in the by-election. Their candidacies have not been confirmed.