Four members of Hong Kong’s opposition camp are struggling to secure enough nominations to run for functional seats in the upcoming Legislative Council elections, positions that have traditionally gone to pro-establishment figures.
The hopefuls said they had difficulty finding the required 10 nominations, as the industries – real estate and construction, financial services, insurance and tourism – were closely related to mainland China and voters within those businesses were under pressure to nominate their rivals.
Lee Faulkner, a British actuary who has lived in Hong Kong for nine years, is aiming to challenge Chan Kin-por, who was first elected as the insurance sector lawmaker in 2008 and had won unopposed since 2012.
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This is not democracy. It’s 21st century feudalism
Lee Faulkner, insurance sector seat hopeful
“The seat is decided by 134 registered insurance companies, but there are 130,000 direct stakeholders – agents, brokers and employees – in insurance today,” Faulkner said on Saturday. “This is not democracy. It’s 21st century feudalism.”
Gary Li Wing-choi, a district councillor in Wan Chai who holds a real estate sales agent licence, is eyeing the seat for real estate and construction, which incumbent representative Abraham Shek Lai-him has held unchallenged since 2004.
“If I had a chance, I would raise the issue of youth housing, hoping to reignite hopes of the youngsters,” Li said.
He had approached many small and mid-sized enterprises among the 671 voters, but was pessimistic he could gain enough nominations by the time the window closed on Friday.
Riding on the momentum of the opposition’s landslide victory in the district council elections last November, the bloc is aiming to take a majority of the legislature’s 70 seats for the first time and force the government to relaunch democratic reforms.
Half of the seats will be contested in five geographical constituencies, while the rest will come from trade-based ones. To achieve their goal, the opposition has to win a majority of seats in the first area and several more in the second.
Their prospects appear brighter in the tourism sector, as Frankie Chow Kam-fei, president of an online tourism website, said he was close to securing enough nominations from 1,486 voters. But he was still cautious about predicting his chances.
“Many corporations are closely related to the mainland, and they fear businesses will be affected,” Chow said.
Pro-democracy district councillor Kelvin Lam Ho-por is making last-ditch efforts to seek nominations from the financial services sector. “Many in the industry say they are under pressure as most have business relations with the mainland … but I really hope I can join the race and inject competition,” Lam said.
The sector, with only 814 corporate voters, is being fiercely contested within the pro-establishment camp, with two new faces seeking to unseat stockbroker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung.
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