As old-timers in basically all leading pan-democratic parties have stepped down from their Legco seats in order to allow their younger partymates to take center-stage, the Hong Kong Association For Democracy and People’s Livelihood (香港民主民生協進會, or ADPL), a small pan-democratic party with strong grass-roots network in Sham Shui Po, seems to be going against the tide.
Frederick Fung Kin-kee, 64, the ADPL founder who failed to get re-elected in the last Legco election in the geographical constituency of Kowloon West, is said to be aggressively eyeing the by-election triggered by the disqualification of the Youngspiration duo, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang.
In order to secure Fung’s candidacy, there has been talk that the 28-year-old Ho Kai-ming, an up-and-coming ADPL member who is an incumbent District Councilor and who had also shown intention to run in the upcoming Legco bypoll, was talked out of his decision by the party leadership through intense arm-twisting, an act that has raised some eyebrows in the pan-democratic camp, where many believe Fung should have given the opportunity to someone younger.
In the meantime, 30-year-old Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, a rookie District Councillor representing the Democratic Party, is also seeking to run in the by-election. However, rumors had it that some in the pan-democratic camp were dismayed to learn that the Democrats are attempting to snap up another seat in the Kowloon West constituency when they already have one (i.e. the incumbent Helena Wong Pik-wan).
In their opinion, the Democrats should let independent candidates or candidates from smaller pan-democratic parties to run, rather than throwing its weight around.
As far as the localist groups are concerned, no one has announced his or her candidacy so far, and most commentators don’t think they stand a substantial chance to win in the by-election either.
It is because on one hand, the charismatic Wong Yuk-man, who is often seen as the spiritual leader of the nativists, has already announced that he would retire from politics altogether, and many think there is no one else qualified and convincing enough to run anymore in the localist camp.
On the other, all the post-Occupy Movement localist groups such as the Youngspiration and the Hong Kong Indigenous have remained in a state of chaos ever since the oath-taking saga and are still regrouping.
Their leaders already have their hands full trying to prevent their organizations from falling apart, let alone making a political comeback.
However, while the localist groups themselves might no longer be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming Legco by-election, their die-hard supporters are.
We must bear in mind that the traditional moderate pan-democrats only managed to gain some 80,000 votes and just finished neck-and-neck with their pro-Beijing opponents in the last Legco election, thanks to the newly emerging localist groups, which snatched an estimated 40,000 votes from the pan-democratic camp.
If the pan-democrats are unable to win over the localist supporters, most of whom are young voters who are equally hostile to both the “pan-democratic establishment” and the pro-Beijing camp, in the upcoming by-election, they would definitely find themselves fighting an uphill battle trying to keep that seat.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 15
Translation by Alan Lee
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