Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Three main contenders emerge in Hong Kong’s November by-election as nomination period begins

Three politicians – Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, Frederick Fung and Lau Siu-lai – have declared their candidacy for the Legislative Council by-election on the first day of the nomination period.

They will be competing for a seat in the Kowloon West geographical constituency, which was vacated when Lau was disqualified in 2017 over the way she took her oath. The by-election will take place on November 25.

Lau Siu-lai

Lau Siu-lai (left). Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lau, a pro-democracy candidate from the Labour Party, submitted her application form on Tuesday, having declared her intention to run last month.

See also: Interview: Can ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai win back her seat in a time of ‘absurd’ politics?

Flanked by her pan-democrat allies, Lau said she submitted the form on the first day because she wanted to give the “most cautious protection” to voters, referring to the possibility of her being disqualified.

She said that was also the reason she signed the Electoral Affairs Commission’s (EAC) confirmation form, despite her own opposition to the measure. Since 2016, the EAC has required candidates for the Legislative Council to sign a form promising to uphold articles of the Basic Law. The step has been criticised as a form of political screening.

“Over the past 10 days… we have gathered more than 2,000 signatures. This shows our public’s support, and we hope that the government will respect voters’ will,” Lau said.

lau siu lai election

A rally in support of Lau held on September 30. Photo: Joshua Wong, via Facebook.

She said it was difficult to assess whether she would be disqualified from the race, adding that she did not support Hong Kong independence.

When asked about Fung’s decision to run, Lau said she was “surprised” and that his run would present a “difficult challenge” to the pro-democracy camp due to his strong voter base in Sham Shui Po. She said she was unsure why Fung changed his mind and will only respond after hearing his explanation.

‘Breaking barriers’

Rebecca Chan formally declared her candidacy on Tuesday, ending months of speculation. Chan previously worked as a TV reporter and a political assistant to Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man.

Rebecca Chan Hoi Yan

Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, known as Yan. Photo: Apple Daily.

While Chan said she was running as an independent, local media reported that she is backed by pro-establishment parties. When asked about her affiliation, Chan said that she was not concerned about how others described her, and it was only important for her to “be her best self.”

Chan said she was motivated to run because she saw a “widening rift” in Hong Kong.

“I saw there was more opposition and division in society, and less tolerance, respect, trust and rationality,” she said, describing the political climate as stifling.

Rebecca Chan hoi yan billboard

A billboard with Chan’s face appeared in Hung Hom in August. Photo: Citizen News.

She said that she wanted people to “study better, live better, eat better,” but did not respond directly to questions about her stance on MTR construction scandals.

Chan said she planned to raise HK$1.13 million for her campaign via crowdfunding.

‘Cultural revolution tactics’

Frederick Fung, formerly of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL), also submitted an application form on Tuesday.

Frederick Fung Kin-kee

Frederick Fung. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

He said he supported Lau’s bid, but was dissatisfied with her choice of the Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan as “plan B.” He said he opposed the decision being made without a primary election.

“As a person who has fought for democracy for over 30 years, I cannot accept an authoritarian system in the pro-democracy camp,” he said.

Fung previously said that he would never run in an election again, but clarified on Tuesday that he would not run again as an ADPL candidate.

He also said that he intends to campaign openly only if Lau was barred from entering the race. He will withdraw if Lau is confirmed as a candidate, Fung said.

Frederick Fung ADPL members

Frederick Fung quitting ADPL in July. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Fung’s relationship with the pro-democracy camp soured after he lost in their primary election in January. On Tuesday, he accused some of his former allies of defamation and character assassination.

“Kalvin Ho [of the ADPL]… said he would never support [me] regardless of circumstance. This is a Cultural Revolution-style election culture; I have to join the election as soon as possible to stop this culture,” Fung said.

The nomination period for the Kowloon West by-election will continue until October 15.

Three main contenders emerge in Hong Kong's November by-election as nomination period begins