by Pak Shuen
Edward Yum Liang-Hsien, defends his past as he declares his candidacy for the Hong Kong Island Legco by-election while dogged by allegations of being a spoiler.
The former superstar orator, who made his name in the RTHK programme City Forum with his weekly assault on the Establishment, has been accused of being a spoiler in the upcoming by-election. The candidate whose campaign he is accused of spoiling is that of the 21-year-old Democratic camp anointed candidate Agnes Chow Ting.
This son of colonial-era Legco member Yum Sin-Ling vehemently denies this accusation. “There are huge swathes of policy areas where I differ from her. My willingness to work with the establishment on certain issues, including being flexible on any possible future negotiations of elections on the Chief Executive and my embrace of free-market principles already provide a stark contrast to her [views].”
While Chow has been quiet on policy specifics, Yum has provided many relatively detailed proposals on various policies. He says, “On traffic, Hong Kong Island’s bottlenecks have been the cross-harbour tunnels. I fully support constructing additional tunnels.”
“On property prices, I support any and all proposals to increase land supply, including the change of land use of the 1200 hectares of Plover Cove reservoir,” he adds.
In the realm of economic policies, he claims,“I believe in competition. There should be competition is every area.” When asked, he said, “Yes, including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Rival exchanges should be allowed to be established.”
However, voters’ attention has not been on his platform, but rather his potential to be a spoiler for the democrats stemming from an ugly split with his former mentor, Raymond Wong Yuk-Man.
Five years ago, Yum was seen as protege and heir apparent to Mr Wong. However, a split occurred in 2012, separating the two politicians. The acrimony culminated with Yum’s verbal takedown of Wong in one of the televised debates in the 2016 Legco election. That exchange went massively viral and is partly credited with Wong’s narrow loss at the polls that year.
On the split, he remembers, “We were close, but he changed his stance on two issues that was inviolable for me. First, he began advocating that we abandon commemorating the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre, something I believe we should never stop. Second, I am against the Hong Kong Independence movement, something he helped fan the flame of.”
But for many voters, Yum’s past, shadowed by accusations of rape, is an obstacle to support him. When asked, he said, “I was completely cleared after police investigations. I am completely innocent of the allegations. But I have to admit, I could have handled the post coitus better. There was a mismatch in expectations of the relationships, long term versus short term. I was a younger man. I made mistakes. I apologize.”
The by-elections were triggered when various victors of the previous election were disqualified for been judged to have deliberately botched their swearing in. By-elections are scheduled for March this year.