Hong Kong Politics & Protest

‘The public is tired of bickering’: Legislative by-election victor Rebecca Chan says she will put livelihood issues first

Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan declared victory in the Legislative Council by-election in the early hours of Monday, promising to focus on livelihood issues instead of politics.

Chan won Sunday’s Kowloon West by-election with 106,457 votes, representing almost half of the total votes cast. She beat her democratic rival Lee Cheuk-yan of the Labour Party by more than 13,000 votes.

Rebecca Chan

Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“I believe that voters, like me, hope that our society is not just about bickering and polarisation. We all want another voice for livelihood issues, to put livelihood issues first,” Chan said.

The by-election was to fill the seat of ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, who was disqualified from the legislature last year over protests she made during her oath-taking.

With Chan’s victory, the pro-establishment camp has secured a majority in both the functional constituency and geographical constituency, leaving the pro-democracy camp with no veto power over any bill, motion or amendment.

During her campaign, Chan claimed to be an independent candidate despite receiving the backing of numerous pro-establishment figures. Speaking to reporters after her victory, she said that her ideals “completely aligned” with those of the pro-establishment camp.

Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan

Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“I have always hoped that my platform and ideals will receive support from different sectors. But I am very happy that my ideals are completely, totally aligned with the pro-establishment camp,” Chan said. “And I am very happy they accepted [me] as a member.”

She added that she had no immediate plans to join any political party, and had not received any invitations to do so.

Chan will serve as a lawmaker until 2020. Asked about re-election, Chan said she had not considered the matter and will focus on the work at hand.

‘No vote-splitting’

Facing another defeat after losing in the 2016 Legislative Council election, pro-democracy candidate Lee said that the public should not give in to apathy.

Lee Cheuk-yan

Lee Cheuk-yan. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“We can be disappointed, but we definitely cannot give up, because in Hong Kong’s future there are still many battles to fight,” Lee said. “I have said [during my campaign] that the biggest enemy is apathy.”

Lee added that he would not run for election again in 2020.

Second runner-up Frederick Fung, who was previously affiliated with the pro-democracy Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL), but ran as an independent, said he should not be held responsible for Lee’s defeat. Fung’s defenders pointed to the fact that Chan would still win numerically if Lee absorbed all of Fung’s votes.

“There is no such thing as vote-splitting in this world – there is only the question of whether you get enough votes,” Fung said. “Saying that others are ‘splitting your vote’ is just looking for an excuse, to avoid the responsibility of improving yourself.”

Frederick Fung

Frederick Fung. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Power for Democracy convener Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, who coordinates affairs for the democrats, disagreed. He said that Fung’s influence on Kowloon West neighbourhoods was a factor in Lee’s loss.

“Localists and young people thought that [the] pro-democracy camp did not meet their expectations, and that was another factor,” he told HKFP.

As for Chan, Chiu said she benefited from her image as a fresh face without conventional ties: “She could unite the different factions of the pro-establishment camp… this was stronger than just relying on the China Liaison Office and neighbourhood organisations,” he said.

'The public is tired of bickering': Legislative by-election victor Rebecca Chan says she will put livelihood issues first