Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Hong Kong's Political Third Way

Civic Party's Alvin Yeung managed to win his predecessor Ronny Tong's seat
On Sunday there was a by-election in New Territories East to replace Civic Party co-founder Ronny Tong Ka-wah who vacated the seat and quit the party last June.

His seat was hotly contested, particularly after the Mongkok riot last month and all eyes were on Edward Leung Tin-kei, who belongs to Hong Kong Indigenous, a localist group that is keen to protect the city and its culture from being eroded by "mainlandization", or influences from Beijing.

However Hong Kong Indigenous is more radical, organizing protests against parallel traders in border areas like Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui. Leung was also an active participant in the Mongkok incident, who was later arrested and charged with rioting.

There were seven candidates campaigning for the seat, and there were concerns the pro-Beijing camp would possibly win.

Edward Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous got 15% of the vote
In the end the Civic Party managed to retain the seat, with barrister Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu winning 37.2 percent of the vote, followed by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the pro-Beijing camp with 34.8 percent.

However in third place, newcomer Leung managed to get 66,524 of the 432,581 votes, or 15.4 percent of the votes. He had a respectable third place showing which demonstrates many things.

Many people, possibly young ones, voted for the 24-year-old undergraduate at the University of Hong Kong because they strongly believe in what Hong Kong Indigenous stands for, and their vote is a rebuke against the Hong Kong government, particularly Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

It also indicates the old guard, both the pro-Beijing camp and the pan-democrats, have to contend with this new blood, as young people are becoming more politically active to have their voices heard.

However, those who wanted to protest against the Hong Kong government, but don't approve of radical tactics voted for the Civic Party, which in the end prevailed.

As Hong Kong Indigenous can no longer be dismissed as a fringe group, or "a small number of separatists" according to Beijing, the upcoming Legislative Council elections in September will be very interesting.

For some, there is a third way, parties like Hong Kong Indigenous, Youngspiration and Civic Passion, that represent the frustrations of young people, but for some, their willingness to take the path of violent measures may be too frightening to accept in what used to be a status-quo city...


  1. I wish the different representatives wouldn't split the pan-Democrat votes. This especially when there are lots of constituencies (like mine) where the pro-Beijing candidate won uncontested!

    1. Hi YTSL -- Yes there isn't much strategic campaigning or voting... but it also indicates some people are tired of the pan-democratic camp and want change!