Hong Kong leader vows to ‘listen humbly’ after shock poll result; hardliners haven’t softened
ByJeff Pao, Hong Kong – Asia Times
Some of the losers sought Monday to blame the Hong Kong government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam for Sunday’s electoral wipe-out in which most representatives of the pro-establishment camp lost their District Council seats.
Without acknowledging responsibility, Lam indicated she’d received a message from voters. “The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously,” she said in a statement issued by the government after voters dealt a humiliating election setback to the Beijing-backed leadership she heads.
That apparently wasn’t what Alice Mak Mei-kuen, a hardline member of the losing side, had in mind when she said a lot of pro-establishment candidates had lost the election mainly due to the fact that the Hong Kong government had provoked many people with its way of administering.
Mak thought Lam had not taken a hard enough line against the protesters.
Mak is a Legislative Council member representing the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions. She had also served in the Kwai Tsing district for 26 years, but failed to renew her term there with 3,480 votes while Henry Sin Ho-fai from the Civic Party won the election with 5,194 votes.
Mak complained that pro-establishment candidates had faced unfair treatment during the election as their past efforts in serving the needs of the local residents were ignored by many voters, who focused only on political issues.
Mak had criticized Lam publicly earlier. After Lam announced suspension of the extradition bill in June, Mak, using foul language, reportedly said in a closed-door meeting that the suspension of the bill – which was officially withdrawn in early October – would hurt the pro-establishment camp’s morale.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei said Monday that unfair treatment against pro-establishment candidates included the vandalism of their offices by black-clad protesters and violent threats that the candidates’ electioneering teams had faced.
Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged the government to review whether it had done enough in the extradition law saga and whether the police had effectively ended the violent protests on the streets.
On Sunday, a total of 2.94 million Hong Kong people, or 71% of all registered votes, voted for the District Council election. As of Monday morning, counting showed that the pro-democracy camp had won more than 300 out of 452 seats and could control chairman seats in 17 out of 18 District Councils.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, a pro-establishment political party, saw the number of its seats down to 21 seats from about 120 seats. The Democratic Party became the largest political party in the city with 91 seats in the District Council.
The relationship between the pro-establishment camp and Carrie Lam is likely to get worse, said Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer and prominent scholar at the Chinese University Hong Kong.
Choy said the Hong Kong government had avoided facing the anti-government sentiment that had been reflected in the some public opinion polls. He said the latest election results showed society’s preference clearly.
However, Choy added that he felt pessimistic about Hong Kong’s democratic development as Beijing would continue to increase its control in Hong Kong.
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, said the Hong Kong and Beijing governments must respond to the anti-extradition protesters’ five demands, which include an independent inquiry into police brutality and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.
Wu said the Democratic Party would work and coordinate with new pan-democracy District Councillors as the victory in the latest election is only the beginning of Hong Kong’s democratic development.