Political Risers: Roy Kwong’s political romance

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Roy Kwong Chun-yu (鄺俊宇), a romance novelist and Democrat ‘superseat’ hopeful, is seeking to untie political knots with words of human touch.


A man of many identities, Roy Kwong Chun-yu  (鄺俊宇) is best known for being a romance novelist. Now, he is eager to show the power of words in the upcoming Legco election.

Granted, there is no lack of aspiring writers in Hong Kong’s political field, but few also have an outsized influence outside of political circles. In this, Roy Kwong of the Democratic Party is second to none. First elected as a District Councillor representing the Pek Long constituency in 2008 at the tender age of 24, Kwong’s name went viral in 2012 only after he wrote a short piece on interpersonal relationships approaching the Mayan apocalypse on 21 December. His works thereafter, many in the form of short novels and prose, have emerged as best-sellers particularly among young readers. Talks surrounding Kwong has grown to a point that even his writing style has become a social trend. “There is a writing style called the Kwong Chun-yu mode (鄺俊宇mode),” as people call it.

 

Politics is an earnest business

His personal page on Facebook has more than 165,000 likes, five times that of his political party’s page. As a District Councillor representing the Pek Long constituency and one who has never worked outside the Long Ping Estate where he lives, Kwong will now have to appeal to all voters in September in a territory-wide election. He sees his popularity as a writer not only as an advantage but also an attribute that politicians should possess.

“It may be rare in Hong Kong, but there were many prominent politicians in the world who were also great writers, like Václav Havel, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill. Lincoln in particular was good at promoting complicated policies to households through simple stories,” Kwong says. “We need a Lincoln here in Hong Kong.”

Kwong continues, “As for me, I find it really interesting to be a writer, a district councillor and a social worker all at the same time. People would take Kwong Chun-yu as a more dimensional, more human politician. As a district councillor, your task is to untie the knots in people’s daily life; as a writer you untie the knots in their hearts. That’s why I find politics and words to be inseparable.” He names the fight to protect Nam Sang Wai, a wetland area that is currently targeted by developers, and animal rights as two of his top issues.

 

A house divided?

Romance aside, in an election year it is the strategy that matters, but one may find too many romances and minimal strategy in the pro-democracy camp, particularly in the District Council (Second) aka ‘superseat’ election. Besides Kwong, there are five other declared teams from the camp running for just five ‘superseats’. The headliners include Kwong and his colleague James To Kun-sun (涂謹申), Sumly Chan Yuen-sum (陳琬琛) of Civic Party, Ho Kai-ming (何啟明) of Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Leung Yiu-chung (梁耀忠) of Neighbourhood Workers Service Centre, as well as Kwan Wing-yip (關永業) of Neo Democrats. The pro-establishment camp, meanwhile, is clearly targeting three seats with three lineups led by Starry Lee Wai-king (李慧琼) and Holden Chow Ho-ding (周浩鼎) of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and Wong Kwok-hing (王國興) of the Federation of Trade Unions.

As a district councillor, your task is to untie the knots in people’s daily life; as a writer you untie the knots in their hearts.

“I take it as a struggle of generations from two perspectives. Firstly, I think the fight for the third seat will come down to a contest between me and Chow, who represents the new generation in our respective camps. Secondly, my candidacy is a response to the 60% of voters who voted for the pan-democracy camp in the 2012 election, that we are getting rid of the much criticised ‘oligarchic’ culture and are ready to take in new blood,” Kwong argues. “So let’s trust our voters to cast the right votes.”

When asked how he can manage his possible fourth identity as a lawmaker, Kwong says: “I’ll just sleep less! When you are really devoted to your work, to sleep or not to sleep is not the question.”