Against all odds

To many politicians, losing an election is akin to the end of their political career and a failure they would never want to remember. But for three independent candidates in the LegCo election, they are proud of their defeat for it has made an impact on the election culture in Hong Kong.

"This is one of the most unfair elections in the world," independent candidate Miss Pamela Peck Wan-kam, 68, said.

"I want to break the monopolisation of political parties," the outspoken former radio presenter said. "Even though I do not have a large support team, I still managed to garner more than 60,000 votes."

"If I had started my promotional campaign earlier and in a larger scale, I would have had even more votes," she added.

Despite coming in last in the District Council (second) functional constituency election, Miss Peck maintains that she has already proven her point and broken the dominance of political parties. She describes her defeat as a personal victory, which proves that candidates without any backing of political parties can still stand out.

While Miss Peck sees herself as a victor, she is worried about the democratic future of Hong Kong's younger generations.

"One of the reasons pan-democratic parties met their waterloo was they didn't give young people the chance to step up to the plate," said a concerned Miss Peck. "Pro-government parties have done a better job in this regard."

Similar to Miss Peck, 39-year-old Mr Pong Yat-ming also wanted to prove his own point in the elections.

"It seems to me that elections nowadays are overly focused on verbally abusing and criticising other candidates rather than introducing your own views to the public," Mr Pong said. "There are no constructive discussions in the elections these days."

Mr Pong, a candidate from the New Territories East constituency, joined the elections in a bid to extend his signature "anti-developer hegemony" campaign.

Even though he did not manage to get a seat in LegCo, Mr Pong was surprised that he somehow managed to get 6,031 votes, calling it a "semi-miracle".

"This was quite a sudden decision," Mr Pong said. "Friends suggested that I should participate in the election to test whether my campaign is well received by the society."

For the time being, his campaign looks set to continue, but the same cannot be said of his political career.

"My friends are asking me to join the next elections," said Mr Pong. "But I'm still not sure if I would go for it."

While Mr Pong seeks to fight against property hegemony, 48-year-old Mr Ho Kar-tai, also known as "Whatever Man", is trying to protect a core value that he believes Hong Kong is gradually losing -  freedom of speech.

"Hong Kong people don't realise that the government is reducing our freedom of speech bit by bit because they're too preoccupied by other problems," Mr Ho said. "Someone has to do something about this because freedom of speech is our ultimate asset."

However, he concedes that his focus does not really match Hong Kong people's wishes.

"It might be one of the reasons I lost, since people care more about housing policies and national education."

Mr Ho, like Mr Pong, participated in the elections in the hope of spreading his own ideas to the people. But unlike other independent candidates, he was left bitterly disappointed by the results.

"I thought people would have voted based on candidates achievements such as how much they have done for society," said Mr Ho.

He says his defeat may also have to do with the unfair electoral rules, especially in so far as they impact on independent candidates. "If every candidate had the same budget for campaigning, I don't think I would have lost," Mr Ho said.

"Results under the current system is heavily dependent on campaigning," he added. "What about those who have no resources to promote themselves?"

In the meantime, Mr Ho expresses his desire to keep a low profile, admitting  that the elections had taken a toll on him and were the biggest lesson in his life.

"I was too silly and naive," Mr Ho laughingly said. "I thought I would get at least a thousand votes."

 

Reported by Cleo Tse

Comments

Divided they fail

A nasty surprise