Fresh start for patriotic body

Top News | Michael Shum and Wallis Wang 21 Sep 2021

Just one member not running under a pro-establishment banner secured a seat in the Election Committee tasked with picking the next chief executive and a large chunk of the Legislative Council amid a turnout of 89.6 percent.

The EC elections - the first after the introduction of Beijing's electoral changes - saw a total of 4,380 out of 4,889 eligible voters cast their ballots.

A total of 1,448 "patriotic" members - 603 uncontested, 156 nominated, 325 ex-officio and 364 elected - included only one member who did not run under a pro-establishment banner.

Former Democratic Party vice chairman Tik Chi-yuen, now founding chairman of centrist party Third Side, won one of the 12 contested seats in the most competitive social welfare subsector - with 23 candidates - with a bit of luck.

He fell into a tie for the last two places with two other candidates, each garnering 55 votes. The three had to draw lots to decide which two would join the committee and Tik won.

Tik said he had mixed feelings as he was the only elected member that is not from the pro-establishment camp.

"This is not an easy battle," Tik said. "I hope more people will follow my footsteps in being mild and rational and represent the people's voice as well as serving Hong Kong.

"But based on the results of the elections, it seems to me that I am quite lonely."

Similar to previous election committees before the electoral reform, pro-Beijing political parties had members fanning across subsectors.

The largest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, secured over 150 seats. The second largest, the Federation of Trade Unions, also snatched a historic high of 57 seats.

Percentage-wise it was actually similar to the last election as the FTU snatched 3.8 percent of seats out of 1,500 on Sunday and 3.67 percent - 44 seats - out of the 1,200 seats in 2016.

Both parties pledged to follow Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office's director Xia Baolong's requirement when nominating and electing the next leader of Hong Kong.

Asked if DAB will support Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor if she seeks reelection, chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said no one has actually announced yet if they will seek the city's top job.

"If anyone wants to run in the election, we will fight for their support on DAB's political ideals for reformation," she said.

The legal subsector - with a 100 percent turnout - saw 15 members on the same list snatching all the contested seats.

One of them, Executive Councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, said he was content that both the Law Society and the Bar Association cast their group votes.

"The Law Society and Bar Association include all legal professionals and they had never said whether they would vote in public before," Tong said. "I believe it's a good thing that they voted this time."

Some subsectors also saw all seats taken by candidates from the same list, including the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape subsector, with members of a 15-strong list led by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member and architect Bernard Lim Wan-fung all elected.

On the other hand, the 13 seats of the education sector were taken by the Education Professional Alliance formed by 13 principals, including vice chairman of the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools Council, Chiu Cheung-ki.

In the medical and health services subsector, David Lam Tzit-yuen was able to obtain the most votes - 69 - paving his way to enter the Legislative Council election in December as the next medical sector lawmaker.

Lam got overwhelming support from 82 voters in the subsector.

Lam was supposed to run for the medical sector in the canceled Legislative Council election last year after medical lawmaker Pierre Chan Piu-yin said he will not seek reelection.

Candidates for the subsector needed to seek support from multiple sides instead of from doctors only, according to Lam.

He added that he needed to leave his comfort zone and consider opinions from nurses, pharmacists and regulatory bodies other than doctors, and it was more difficult for him to win voters' support.

Lam said the tense relationship between the government and the legislature can be eased in the future.

Lawmakers will need to monitor the government and push the development of the SAR instead of "blindly" supporting or opposing everything proposed by the government, he said.

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