More than 10,300 Hong Kong voters showed up at a primary organised by the pro-democracy camp on Sunday, as six activists made last-ditch efforts to secure entry into the coming by-elections for the city’s legislature.
The camp aims to pick two candidates for seats representing the constituencies of Kowloon West and New Territories East. The two seats were left vacant last year along with four others after six pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified for improper oaths of office.
At 3pm, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, convenor of Power for Democracy, the event’s co-organiser, said the turnout had exceeded 10,300. Chiu originally estimated that about 8,000 people would cast their ballots.
1.46 million voters urged to help Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp pick candidates for legislature by-elections
Three polling stations were set up in Kowloon West for more than 480,000 potential voters, while New Territories East had five stations for 975,000 voters.
“I believe people are especially angry about the government’s recent moves concerning the justice secretary,” Chiu said of the high turnout. He was referring to the city’s justice chief Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, who has been embroiled in a scandal involving illegal structures at her house, since taking office on January 6.
Earlier at noon, there were about 100 voters queuing outside a polling station in Shek Kip Mei as academic Edward Yiu Chung-yim, one of the three hopefuls for the primary in the constituency, arrived.
“I am very touched to see the long queue … [It shows] the pro-democracy camp and its voters will unite in resisting this autocratic regime. We need to win Hong Kong back!” Yiu said.
The former lawmaker was also flanked by a group of prominent supporters, including Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, localist legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, and Demosisto’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung as well as Agnes Chow Ting.
Yiu was one of the six lawmakers disqualified. He held the Legco seat for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, and has been seeking a comeback to the legislature by attempting to run for the Kowloon West seat.
Competing against him in the primary are ex-lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee and Democratic Party district councillor Ramon Yuen Hoi-man.
Asked to comment on Yiu’s supporters, Fung said what counted most was the backing from voters.
“I’m not concerned about what is favourable or unfavourable for me … I’m just doing my best to win electors’ ballots,” Fung said. He added that his party, the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, arranged buses to help voters, especially the elderly, get to the Shek Kip Mei polling station.
Yuen was accompanied by his party’s chairman Wu Chi-wai and lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung as he gave out promotional fliers.
Sunday’s ballot accounts for 45 per cent of the final result, which will be announced on Monday, with telephone polling forming another 45 per cent. Votes from members of political parties and civic groups form the remaining 10 per cent.
For New Territories East, Labour Party chairman Steven Kwok Wing-kin, ex-lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, and former student activist Tommy Cheung Sau-yin are the hopefuls.
Apart from his party’s veterans, Kwok’s supporters included lawmakers Shiu Ka-chun and Lam Cheuk-ting. Lam represents the Democratic Party in New Territories East.
Six pro-democracy lawmakers were ousted from their Legco seats last year after Beijing ruled that the manner in which they took their oaths of office was unconstitutional.
Four of these seats are being contested in the March 11 by-election. Aside from Kowloon West and New Territories East, the constituencies of Hong Kong Island and the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape constituency will also be up for grabs.
There will be no primary for the Hong Kong Island seat as the pro-democracy camp has agreed that Demosisto’s Agnes Chow Ting has priority given that the seat was vacated by her party colleague Nathan Law Kwun-chung.
Paul Zimmerman, founder of Designing Hong Kong, an NGO that specialises in urban planning, was endorsed by the camp to contest the seat for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape constituency.
Meanwhile, for the pro-establishment camp, Judy Chan Ka-pui from New People’s Party, as well as Vincent Cheng Wing-shun and Bill Tang Ka-piu from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, are tipped to contest the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West and New Territories East seats, respectively.
Non-affiliated former lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen is expected to attempt a comeback in the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency.
In March last year, more than 65,000 people voted in a 10-day mock poll for residents to indicate their choice for the next chief executive. The event was organised by pro-democracy activists and university academics shortly before the city’s leadership election.