DC Elections Explained: The Aftermath

The first post-Occupy District Council elections saw some huge names in politics slip up. It also saw the rise of young faces from all sides. Make no mistake, the pro-establishment still control the district councils, but their reign in the coming four years will likely be harder than the last. Harbour Times breaks it down.

Status quo remains

If one looks at the big picture, there was no big shift in the share of seats among the pro-establishment camp and its pan-democratic counterparts. Pro-est still has a majority in all districts.Looking into the details, one may find a number of nuances that could prove substantial in the long run.

Yet, contrary to pre-election forecasts, the pan-dem camp gained 21 seats and some 27,000 votes more compared with the 2011 elections. Meanwhile, the number of pro-est councillors dropped from 301 to 298, excluding independent candidates, despite winning about 100,000 more votes. Mind you these results also come after an increase in directly elected seats.

Umbrella Soldiers surprisingly successful

In the first city-wide election after the Umbrella Movement, a lot of attention was on how effective post-Umbrella civic groups and their ‘Umbrella Soldiers’ would be. These candidates ran without the resources and experience their opponents had, but out of the 60-odd Umbrella Soldiers, 10 came out victorious, while others fared decently.

The victors included:

Chui Chi-kin (徐子見) in Yue Wan (Eastern)

Kwong Po-yin (鄺葆賢) in Whampoa West (Kowloon City)

Lai Tsz Yan (黎梓恩) in Wong Uk (Sha Tin)

Lau Yung-wai (劉勇威) in Old Market & Serenity (Tai Po)

To Ka Lun (杜嘉倫) in Fairview Park (Yuen Long)

Wong Chi-ken (黃子健) in Lok Wah North (Kwun Tong)

Wong Chun-sing (王振星) in Tai Koo Shing East (Eastern)

Wong Hok-lai (黃學禮) in Chung Tin (Sha Tin)

Yam Man-chuen (任萬全) in Fu Heng (Tai Po)

Yeung Suet-ying (楊雪盈) in Tai Hang (Wan Chai)

One of the major surprises must have been the defeat of Chirstopher Chung (鍾樹根). The LegCo councillor lost to first-timer Chui Chi-kin, who famously threw his hat in the ring at the last minute to stop Chung from winning uncontested.

Labour Party’s Yip Wing (葉榮) was also able to defeat Elizabeth Quat (葛珮帆) in Sha Tin’s Chung On district. Yip Wing was often seen strolling through the Occupy camp in Admiralty on his wheelchair. Yip, who was born with physical disabilities, said after his victory, “I’m not doing this just for me or for those with disabilities, I’m fighting for all of HK.”

Youngspiration’s efforts were commendable. The group that is less than a year old was one of the more organised and well known post-umbrella civic groups. While they were only able to win one out of the eight seats they contended, they were able to take down one of BPA and Kownloon West New Dynamic’s Priscilla Leung (梁美芬)’s closest allies and almost took down the rat queen herself. At one point there were rumours that Yau Wai-ching (游蕙禎) was able to take down BPA’s Priscilla Leung but in the end she was defeated by a mere 300 votes.

In a press conference today, Youngspiration convenor Baggio Leung (梁頌恆) hinted the group will look to run candidates in next year’s LegCo elections, and will use the Kowloon East by-elections as a trial run.

For all its failures to make any immediate changes, the ripples of the Umbrella Movement can still be felt and have seemingly left a mark that won’t be going away any time soon.

Losers

League of Social Democrats once again failed to gain any ground in the district councils. All five of its candidates were defeated, including Raphael Wong (黃浩銘) in the Lik Yuen constituency, and LSD secretary general Derek Chan Tak-cheung (陳德章), who was found guilty for egging Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, in the Cho Yiu constituency.

Fellow ‘radical pan-dems’ People Power, continues to exert their influence in the district councils through Mandy Tam Heung-man (譚香文), their sole district councillor. Tam defeated Joseph Lam Chok (林作) in the Lung Sing constituency by around 500 votes.

The hardcore localists running in this year’s elections did not find much success either. Most relied on political ideology rather than prolonged community work in their campaigns.

The controversial Nakade Hitsujiko (中出羊子) was only able to win 172 votes (6.51%) despite his popularity on social media. At one point his election mails were rejected by the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) because they included phrases that were allegedly “against the Basic Law”. 

Civic Passion sent six contenders, where five competed against Democratic Party candidates. Cheng Chung-tai (鄭松泰), arguably their biggest name, ran against Junius Ho Kwan-yiu (何君堯) and incumbent Albert Ho (何俊仁) in Tuen Mun’s Lok Tsui constituency along with another three candidates. Cheng won 391 votes, less than 10% of the district’s vote count. Nevertheless, in terms of targeting Democratic Party candidates, Cheng and Lee Ching Hei (李政熙) in North District’s Tin Ping West constituency were successful. They were able to cause two close DP defeats, under the simplistic assumption that their entire vote would have gone to the DP candidate in their district had they not run.

Vote-splitting hurt

The failure of pro-democracy groups to coordinate did inflict a certain level on damage in terms of seats won. Among the 24 constituencies where two or more pro-democracy candidates ran against each other (excluding those involving Civic Passion and the so-called fake ‘umbrella soldiers’), seven emerged to be claimed by pro-democracy force. In the most ideal case for the pro-democracy camp, this number could have doubled if the splitted votes were all added to one single candidate in each constituency.

Veteran ADPL pan-democrat Frederick Fung Kin-kee (馮檢基)’s case was a prime example. He won 2432 votes but lost to FTU’s Chan Wing-yan (陳穎欣) by 99 votes while Fung’s former comrade Wong Chung-ki, who also ran in the constituency, got 215 votes. Wong was accused of running in the election solely with an aim of splitting Fung’s votes since the very beginning.

The lead water scandal was a non-factor

Despite the fact that DP’s Helena Wong Bik-wan has been given credit for exposing the illegal amount of lead content found in the drinking water in housing estates, pan-dems did not gain an advantage in districts hit hardest by the scandal.

Four of the five district most affected by the lead water scandal went to pro-est candidates. Those constituencies include Kai Tak North (Kowloon City District), Hing Fong (Kwai Tsing District), Fu Cheung (Sham Shui Po District), Jordon Valley (Kwun Tong District), and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (Kwun Tong). Only DP’s Ng Kim-sing (吳劍昇) was able to win in Hing Fong.

Democratic Party Alumni had a huge role

Gary Fan (范國威), who ‘graduated’ from the DP in 2010 in protest against the party’s support of the 2010 constitutional reform package, was one the of the night’s biggest winners. His party, the Neo Democrats, won 15 out of their 16 bids. Gary Fan has since ruled out running for the Superseat next year, given his party’s hardline stance against its origins. It would seem like a waste given their party alone has enough district seats to nominate a contender.

Chris Mak Yun Pui (麥潤培), a former Democratic Party member who left the party in September out of frustration towards their lack of support for the young guard, won his district with just under 70% of the vote. Given the success of the other “young pigeons” (younger generation of the DP) in the elections, it’s time for the Democratic Party’s old guard to handover the keys.

Many of the old guard were defeated. Albert Ho failed in his bid to retain his seat in the Lok Tsui district by Junius Ho. While ADPL’s Frederick Fung Kin-kee also lost his seat to FTU’s Chan Wing-yan. Neither superseat holders will be able to retain their seats in LegCo come next year.  

Nelson Wong (黃成智), who was ousted by the Democratic Party for his vocal support of the Government’s political reform package earlier this year, lost his battle in North district’s Fanling South constituency.

Chow Yik-hei (周奕希), who left the DP to join Nelson Wong’s Third Way (新思維) political platform, had already been automatically elected after his seat was uncontested. His brother-in-law, Chan Siu-man (陳笑民) also won in the Tsing Yi Estate constituency. While the two have been accused of defecting to the pro-establishment camp, their victories were not crucial to the pan-dems’ defeat in the Kwai Tsing district.

District majorities remain with the pro-est

Nevertheless, all district councils will still have a pro-est majority. Pan-dems were expected to reclaim the Kwai Tsing district but failed. Instead of the one extra seat they needed to gain a majority, they lost four, including DP vice-chairman Andrew Wan Siu-kin.

Surprisingly, they came closest in the Sha Tin district, gaining 50% of the elected seats, losing out only due to the rural council seat.

Michael Wong
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Michael Wong

Michael Wong has a background in journalism in Canada and Hong Kong, including stints in print and radio media. He has worked with Metro Radio and CKMS Radio. He also has experience in PR and operations management with Franklin Templeton Investments and community based organisations in Hong Kong, Canada and mainland China. He majored in Political Science and Economics and minored in International Relations at the prestigious University of British Columbia after graduating from St. Paul’s College, Hong Kong.
Michael Wong
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Alex Fok is a Harbour Times journalist monitoring Hong Kong’s daily political scene and diplomatic updates. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies from University of Warwick and his master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a former committee member of the Warwick-based Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society (WHKPASS) and was the chief editor of the society’s magazine – PASSTIMES.
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