Legco election prospects: Liberal Party’s transport sector menace

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This new analysis series will present some key contests in the upcoming Legco elections. Our first features the transport functional constituency.

(Chinese original by Alex Fok, translation by Ashley Kong)

The localist challenge to pan-democrats is not the only highlight of the upcoming Legco race. Conflicts within pro-establishment camp seem to surface as well.

For instance, incumbent legislator and member of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) Christopher Chung Shu-kun (鍾樹根) publicly complained about not being named as the headliner in the party’s Hong Kong Island constituency lineup. As for the functional constituencies, the Liberal Party is also at risk of losing its ‘monopoly’ of the transport seat.

The Transport functional constituency, initially known as Transport and Communications functional constituency, has been dominated by the Liberal Party for about two decades. Former Liberal Party chairperson Miriam Lau Kin-yee (劉健儀) had claimed the seat for 17 years. Upon Lau’s ill-fated attempt to run for the Hong Kong Island seat in 2012, incumbent Frankie Yick Chi-ming (易志明), also a Liberal Party member, became the new transport representative in an uncontested election.

Yick has earlier indicated interest in re-election, yet it is an open secret in the political circle that Algernon Yau Ying-wah (丘應樺), who recently left from his CEO job at Cathay Dragon, might be running. It is unlikely that Yick will get re-elected without drama.

During Lau’s term, various challengers had attempted to push Lau out of the transport seat, but to no avail. One of the major forces behind her winning streak was her sheer influence in the taxi industry.

Currently, the constituency consists of less than 200 voters, in which voters in taxi or minibus services are greater in number than those in air transport. Additionally, Yick is director of several shipping companies, including Wharf T&T. Yick still has a relatively high chance of re-election.

On the other hand, Yau is fairly active in the political arena having taken up a number of public offices, such as membership at the Lantau Development Advisory Committee. He has also begun campaigning to other industries apart from air transport. More importantly, the taxi industry is presently troubled by the government’s premium taxi proposal and their market being encroached by Uber. Improving local taxi services without compromising the industry’s interests would be one major challenge to Yick. In fact, Yick’s introduction of the official “taxi app”, supported by the taxi industry, might well be interpreted as part of his campaign.

Although the Liberal Party has managed to build a positive image among the public through its “moderate pro-establishment” platform and their honorary chairperson James Tien Pei-chun (田北俊)’s outspokenness, it is uncertain whether their ABC (Anyone-But-CY) card is effective when it comes to the functional constituencies.