Legco election prospects: Ricky Wong a destabilising force on Hong Kong Island

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Our Legco Election Prospects series looks into Ricky Wong’s tornado on Hong Kong Island.

(This is the English translation of 立法會選舉前瞻:王維基掀起香港島直選亂局 written by Benny Kwok published on 4 Jul 2016)

Legco races in four of the five geographical constituencies, namely New Territories West, New Territories East, Kowloon West and Kowloon East, are characterised by the localist challenge to pan-democrats. In these constituencies, localist voters typically are former pan-democrat supporters who turned to radical politics. Hong Kong Island is a slightly different case however. Pan-democrats on Hong Kong Island are also at risk of losing appeal, but not to localists. HKTV founder Ricky Wong Wai-kay (王維基), who plays the ABC (Anyone but CY) card, seems to pose a greater threat.

This year, the number of Hong Kong Island seats is reduced from seven to six. Moreover, many incumbents are not running for re-election, giving way to new faces. As Ricky Wong announced his candidacy yesterday, election prospects on Hong Kong Island has become increasingly unpredictable.

Ricky Wong is a founding member of Liberal Party, and was once a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee representing the Zhejiang province. Hence he is by nature pro-establishment. However, his ABC card is well received by the public. He also won public sympathy and support when the government denied HKTV’s application for a free TV broadcasting license.

Wong is running as an independent candidate this time. His policy platform features a mix of pan-democrat, pro-establishment, and localist agendas. His catch-all approach will probably appeal to supporters of both pan-democrats and the pro-establishment.

At a press interview in May, Wong indicated clearly that he is appealing to the supporters of New People’s Party Chair Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (葉劉淑儀). Ip replied that she welcomes competition. She depends mostly on conservative middle class voters. Wong’s impact on her campaign might seem minimal at the first sight, but he is indeed very popular to a point that re-election might not be as easy as Ip had initially thought.

But Democratic Party and Civic Party are the ones who should really worry about Wong’s candidacy. Sin Chung-kai (單仲偕) of Democratic Party and Kenneth Chan Ka-lok (陳家洛) of Civic Party are not seeking re-election; instead, Ted Hui Chi-fung (許智峯) and Tanya Chan Suk-chong (陳淑莊) are likely replace them respectively. But the two are facing their own issues. Distrust against Hui among his Democratic Party colleagues might raise uncertainties. As for Chan, her popularity declined after the Umbrella protests while Civic Party’s supporter base is not as stable as that of the Democratic Party. Ricky Wong might be able to take down one of them.

Cyd Ho Sau-lan (何秀蘭) of Labour Party is an experienced runner. Her supporter base is very similar to Civic Party, which is prone to the same challenge from Ricky Wong. Her path to re-election is just as perilous as Ip.

For Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan (張國鈞) of DAB, and Aron Kwok Kai-keung (郭偉強) who might possibly replace Wong Kwok-hing (王國興) of FTU, who may run for the District Council (second) seat in functional constituencies, they both have a stable supporter base and which are quite different from supporters who might vote for Ricky Wong. Both of them have high chances of election.

As for Baggio Leung Chung-heng (梁頌恆) of Youngspiration, Alvin Cheng Kam-mun (鄭錦滿) of Civic Passion, Nathan Law Kwun-chung (羅冠聰) of Demosistō, and Gary Wong Chi-him (黃梓謙) of Path of Democracy, all four of them seem to fall short in experience, fame, and supporter base. Their chance of election falls on the lower end.