Pro-democracy Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung has said he will not seek re-election after his third term ends in 2020.
Cheung, 61, a social worker and a retired university lecturer, first became a lawmaker in 2004 through the social welfare sector functional constituency. He entered a race for direct election in the New Territories West geographical constituency in 2008, but failed to win. Since 2012, he won two terms in the New Territories East area.
Cheung said he has been a lawmaker for three terms and should not stay in such an important position for too long. He said he wanted to clear the the path for newcomers with fresh minds.
“It is time for me to leave, I am becoming outdated,” he told Next Magazine in an interview.
Asked about his reasoning, he said: “I saw my colleagues being disqualified, and the whole organisation being disqualified; When you are in the legislature, you may be charged and sent to jail for anything you do; [The pro-Beijing camp] wants to change the Rules of Procedures after the first changes were made.”
“It is getting more and more ridiculous, it is very depressing,” he added.
Cheung said he hoped Labour Party Chair Steven Kwok, 31, would win in the next legislative election in September 2020.
Cheung did not rule out running in the same list after Kwok in order to secure votes for him. But Cheung maintained a lot could change in two years and it was too early to be certain.
Kwok won in a 2015 Tai Po District Council by-election, but lost in the general election just four months later. Kwok ran in the pro-democracy camp primary election for the Legislative Council New Territories East area by-election in March, but lost to the victor, Gary Fan of the Neo Democrats.
Recently, disqualified lawmaker Lau Siu-lai joined the Labour Party ahead of November’s Legislative Council by-election for Kowloon West. The party’s Lee Cheuk-yan may become a substitute candidate, should Lau be barred from running.
Cheung said he will continue helping underprivileged minorities in society after ending his LegCo term, but he has yet to make any solid plans.
In the interview, Cheung said he had to make two compromises recently.
The first one was that he purchased a property in Hong Kong after renting for more than 20 years, following his return from the US in 1996.
Cheung said it was a “depressing” choice – as he had disdain for the housing market – but he foresaw his income would be reduced gradually, and he could only pass mortgage requirements with his current income as a lawmaker.
The second one was that he had applied for government care homes for disabled people for his 27-year-old daughter, who is severely mentally handicapped. He has taken care of her with his wife throughout her life. But Cheung said the waiting time for a care home could be longer than a decade, and he and his wife were gradually becoming physically incapable of taking care of their daughter.