Ousted pro-democracy lawmaker Lau Siu-lai has announced that she will run in the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West constituency in November.
The nomination period for the November 25 by-election begins on October 2, but Lau made her announcement on Thursday afternoon, making her the first person to announce their candidacy.
Lau retracted the appeal against her disqualification in May, thus triggering the by-election. Should she be barred from running, labour activist and former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan would take her place. Lau, who founded the group Democracy Groundwork, joined Lee’s Labour Party in June.
A pro-democracy candidate must win for the camp to retake its veto power at the legislature, as further changes to the the legislature’s house rules are being floated.
At a rally held on Thursday to announce her candidacy, Lau was supported by several pro-democracy lawmakers such as the Democratic Party’s Roy Kwong, the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung, independent lawmaker Claudia Mo, as well as Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL) district councillor Kalvin Ho and former lawmaker Alan Leong.
Lau said the seat was a “key seat” in preventing the potential changes to the legislature’s house rules.
“The shameless pro-Beijing camp wants to change the rules to kick lawmakers out of the [chamber of the] legislature, and for a whole year,” she said. “If this happens, who will defend our legislature?”
“Hongkongers need to dare to stand up and tell the truth,” she added.
Asked about chances of her being barred from running, Lau said she never supported Hong Kong independence.
“The regime has been using unreasonable excuses to bar candidates that it does not like – under such a ridiculous situation, we can’t tell what the reason is or how likely I am to be barred. I can only say that I will try to help the pro-democracy camp to take back this seat no matter what role I’m in,” she said.
Lau may face rumoured pro-Beijing candidate Rebecca Chan in the by-election. Chan was a former journalist and a former political assistant at the Food and Health Bureau under Ko Wing-man.
Chan has served as a “health ambassador” for the pro-Beijing group Kowloon Federation of Associations for around a month. The group bought ad space for Chan in Kowloon West, including a large banner in Hung Hom.
However, Chan resigned from the role last week, and the role was filled by former cycling athlete Wong Kam-po.
Frederick Fung, a former pro-democracy lawmaker, has said he will consider joining the race if Lau is barred from running. In July, Fung withdrew from the ADPL, which he co-founded more than 30 years ago.
Fung lost in the pro-democracy camp primary in the March by-election to ousted lawmaker Edward Yiu. As the runner-up, he was to take Yiu’s place if Yiu was barred from running.
The primary caused controversy as some in the camp refused to accept Fung as Yiu’s substitute. Ultimately, Fung chose not to be the substitute candidate. Yiu lost to his opponent in the March by-election.
Asked about Fung’s potential run, Lau said she will try her best to unite the pro-democracy camp.