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Friday, August 19, 2016, 00:10

Pro-establishment camp may secure three ‘super seats’

By Joseph Li

HONG KONG - It appears that the outcome of the District Council (Second) constituency in the  upcoming Legislative Council election will reverse that of four years ago, with the pro-establishment camp predicted to win three of the five seats and the “pan-democratic” camp to get the remainder. In 2012, the opposition won three seats and there were only two for pro-establishment candidates.

A total of nine tickets are competing for five seats. While the pro-establishment camp is more pragmatic by deploying three teams and aiming at three seats, opposition candidates are embroiled in internal struggles, with six teams vying for three seats — yet some candidates are almost unknown to most voters.

It is worth noting that the “super seats” are part of the 2010 political reform. The Civic Party opposed it while Democratic Party members who objected to it broke away to form a new party, the Neo Democrats. Some feel those two parties are showing a lack of political integrity by fielding candidates in this contest this time.

According to a University of Hong Kong rolling poll commissioned by three media organizations, the Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun, who won the most votes in the “super seat” contest last time, is still leading with 31 percent support from respondents.

Another candidate, Starry Lee Wai-king who was second in 2012 with over 277,000 votes, also enjoys strong support at 29 percent, while the number of residual votes is good enough to secure a seat for the candidate sitting second on her ticket.

Coming third is seasoned “democrat” Leung Yiu-chung from the Neighbourhood Workers Service Centre, who has switched from the New Territories West constituency, with 13 percent. Leung also opposed the political reform in 2010.

Wong Kwok-hing, from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), has 8 percent support.

Holden Chow Ho-ding, who is Starry Lee’s colleague from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), is level with the Democratic Party’s Roy Kwong Chun-yu at 6 percent.

Many people and political figures doubt if the poll is accurate. It is a rolling poll, meaning that it is done every day. Yet the sample size is very small — between 100 and 200. Moreover, the respondents are not necessarily registered voters and so the support level cannot accurately be translated into votes.

DAB supporters are not overjoyed even though the poll suggests Starry Lee’s team will win two seats. In recent days its founding chairman and LegCo President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has said polls are sometimes misleading and harmful. If voters believe their favorite candidates have enough votes to secure a seat, they will instead vote for other candidates, while there were cases of popular candidates losing because some electors voted for other candidates instead.

It is true that the DAB wants two “super seats” for Starry Lee and Holden Chow, who is a party vice-chairman and rising star. He took part in the New Territories East by-election in February as a rehearsal and though he lost, he finished high with over 150,000 votes.

Lee’s team will campaign very wisely. If she presses too hard for votes, she might drag down Chow (just as she accidentally damaged party colleague Lau Kong-wah, who lost by a narrow margin last time) and Wong Kwok-hing from the HKFTU.

And if the poll is accurate, the Democratic Party will be all but kicking themselves for their election strategy. Although James To has 31 percent support, his ticket can only win one seat because he is the only one on the ticket and he cannot pass the residual votes to anyone. On the other hand, the popularity of its other candidate Roy Kwong is low and he is struggling, casting doubt on he is the right candidate.

Also competing in the District Council (Second) constituency are: Ho Kai-ming, Chan Yuen-sum and Kwan Wing-yip.

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