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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

2 tech experts, Chinese medicine practitioner, company head win Hong Kong by-election

2 tech experts, Chinese medicine practitioner, company head win Hong Kong by-election

Poll held to fill four seats vacated by previous members who left to take up senior government posts.
Two technology experts, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and a company director on Sunday won a by-election to fill four seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. 

They were among six aspirants who contested in the poll, with only the 1,400 members of the Election Committee eligible to vote from 9am to decide on replacements for those who quit earlier this year to take up senior posts in the administration. 

The winners were technology company chief Shang Hailong, engineering professor William Wong Kam-fai, Adrian Ho King-hong of the New People’s Party (NPP), and Chan Wing-kwong, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).

In a statement, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu congratulated the four winners, saying he hoped they would “assume their duties with due diligence”.

“I hope that the four newly elected members will … create and develop an environment conducive for constructive policy debates and join hands with the government in solving different problems together,” he said. “The government team and I will continue to strengthen the good executive-legislative relationship … with a view to charting a brighter tomorrow for Hong Kong and our people.”

Lee will swear the four winners into office on Monday morning in the Legco chamber. 

William Wong, 62, an associate dean of Chinese University’s engineering faculty, said he felt excited about the challenges ahead. “I’ve always wanted Hong Kong to become an innovation and technology hub, and I’ve been working very hard … I am very glad that I’m elected.” 

Wong added he hoped Hong Kong could fulfil Beijing’s expectations in technological innovation, and that the sector could help to boost the city’s economy.

Shang, 40, managing director of technology firm SenseTime Hong Kong, said he would make it his “top priority and responsibility to help Hong Kong become a more prosperous place”.

Ho, meanwhile, said he would be a rational voice in the legislature. “I’ll be doing my utmost in serving the community. … I’m also a young person with a global vision. I’ll be bringing my various experiences into the legislature.” 

Chan thanked his party, the DAB, for supporting his campaign and enabling him to win the most votes. “I believe that most of the voters support traditional Chinese medicine … I’ll fulfil my responsibilities and care about various aspects of the entire society,” he vowed.

The two losers of the poll were Ken Lee Kwong-yu of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) and public affairs director Gary Wong Chi-him, who had also lost his bid for a Legco seat in 2016 and 2021. 

FTU president Stanley Ng Chau-pei said it was regrettable that Lee was defeated after putting together a “very outstanding campaign”. 

“The FTU will continue to stand firm on our stance and orientation. We will protect workers’ rights, safeguard Hong Kong’s overall interest, and help the city in integrating with mainland China,” he added.

Lee was the second FTU candidate to be defeated in an election in four days. The federation’s vice-president Tse Oi-hung also lost her bid on Thursday to join the 36-strong Hong Kong delegation to China’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress. Ng said on Sunday that despite the setbacks, the FTU would continue to be active in local politics. 

Gary Wong, who revealed on Thursday he had tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be isolated until further notice, was not present at the poll. 

Writing on his Facebook page, Wong congratulated the four winners. 

“Since announcing my bid, I have been encouraging myself to be better every day … In the future, I will continue to serve society like this, and work with various sectors in promoting Hong Kong as a centre of arts and cultural exchange,” he added.

Chan received 1,028 votes, followed by William Wong at 983, while Ho and Shang managed 833 and 812 respectively. Gary Wong and Lee got 791 and 781 votes respectively. 

Local politicians on Sunday morning said they hoped winners of the by-election could improve city governance and tackle socio-economic problems. 

The turnout rate was 90.7 per cent, with voting ending at 11.30am. A total of 1,307 voters cast their ballots, while 134 did not. The turnout rate was 8 percentage points lower than the general election a year ago, when 1,426 Election Committee members picked 40 candidates to sit in the legislature. 

Justice David Lok Kai-hong, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, declined to comment on the turnout. “There could be many factors involved, and I cannot speculate.” 

Lok said he was satisfied with the efficiency of the vote count, which took about an hour.

There was only one polling station – at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai – for the by-election, but dozens of committee members under quarantine or in isolation had signed up to vote at the government’s Penny’s Bay Covid-19 facility. 

Earlier on Sunday, candidates Ken Lee, Ho and Chan could be seen meeting voters at the exhibition centre. 

The other three – Shang, William Wong and Gary Wong – sent their campaign teams to the centre’s entrance to chant their candidate numbers and remind voters who to pick. 

William Wong, Shang and Lee all identified technology as their focus, while Ho, Gary Wong and Chan’s election manifesto focused more on commerce, culture and traditional Chinese medicine.

But Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, earlier said he was mainly concerned about the abilities of the eventual winners. 

“I hope that the winners can serve Hong Kong and residents in Legco. I think that Legco will have a lot of work to do in future, so I hope the collaboration between the executive and legislative branches can be even smoother,” he added.

Lo Man-tuen, a vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, said he hoped the four winners would help Legco keep a diverse range of expertise.

“It is important to consider the overall composition of the legislature … It was not easy to pick four from these six,” he said.

Another political veteran, Chan Wing-kee, also said all six candidates were “very good patriots”.

“My main considerations were whether they were able to achieve results for Hong Kong … I didn’t consider their political affiliation, I mainly looked at their track record in their professions or related industries,” said the former standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top advisory body.

New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, convenor of key decision-making body, the Executive Council, said all six candidates, including her NPP colleague Adrian Ho, had worked very hard on their campaigns.

“I hope that they will inject more rational voices into Legco. They must help the government administer the city, as well as to monitor its work,” she said.

Lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said his party looked forward to working with the four winners.

“We welcome cooperation under the principle of ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’ … and hope to boost the city’s economy and improve people’s livelihoods,” he said.

Lawmaker Reverend Canon Peter Koon Ho-ming said he hoped the winners could bring changes to Hong Kong. “Many people hope that more talent can emerge from the innovation and technology sector, this is my consideration as I voted,” he said.

Tik Chi-yuen, a lawmaker for the social welfare sector, said he hoped the winners would care about related policies and the lives of low-income residents.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, urged the newcomers to contribute to improving the economy.
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