Ma Ngok, the head of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, predicts that young candidates who join the district council elections after the Occupy Movement have little chance of winning. “Most districts are occupied by the pro-establishment camp, and there is at least one pan-democratic candidate working on each of the remaining districts,” says Ma.
Furthermore, he thinks unless these young candidates coordinate with pan-democratic candidates, the pro-democratic vote may be split and eventually lead to a lose-lose situation for both parties, making the pro-establishment camp the biggest winner in the district council elections.
Seeing that there is a slim chance of winning the district council elections, some young people, like Hong Kong Federation of Students Standing Committee member Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, are advocating alternative ways to preserve the spirit of the Occupy Movement. “Forming political parties makes the political demands of this generation more concrete, invoking a larger and broader political discussion,” says Cheung.
Cheung does not believe that joining the established system through district councils is an effective way to achieve political goals, as winning elections will take precedence over principles once young candidates become a part of the system. He cites the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood as an example, saying the party seldom talks about political reform and the Occupy Movement to avoid losing votes.
However, for Professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming from the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, joining the established system is an essential component of democracy. “Diversification and division of labour are important for democracy. We need to have different people taking up different roles,” says Cheung.
Sheep Wong Chun-yeung also believes that it is necessary for young people to join the established system to challenge the rules of the pro-establishment camp’s game. “You can’t beat them [the pro-establishment camp] unless you join the election. You must kick them away through votes,” Wong says firmly. “There is no turning back. We will go as far as we can.”
Fellow prospective candidate Wong Sui-lung frankly admits there is little chance for young candidates to win this year’s district council elections, but thinks defeat should not be the end of their path to democracy, but rather, the starting point. “We are not just focusing on this year, but maybe four or even eight years later. When we have changed the game rules, the pro-establishment camp’s handouts strategy on community work may collapse.”
“I believe if we follow this direction, Hong Kong people have the potential to upend the status quo,” says Wong.
Edited by John Cheng