Young candidates ready for the race

Faced with competition from veteran politicians, candidates in their 20s are determined to win in the election.

By Choco Chan, Jonathan Chan CY.

One year after the student-led Occupy Movement, some young democrats are bringing their political passion to the district council election. With the help of supporting groups, they are trying to challenge the established political parties and win over Hong Kong voters.

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At the age of 21, Kelvin Sin Cheuk-nam is the youngest candidate the Democratic Party is fielding in the upcomingdistrict council election. Mr Sin said a challenge he faces is the general perception that young people are inexperienced and incapable in politics.

"In my district, being young is definitely not an advantage," said Mr Sin.

Mr Sin is running for a seat in the Central and Western District's constituency of Kennedy Town and Mount Davis. Some of his opponents are much older then him.

One of them, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong candidate Chan Hok-fung, is 38 years old and has been working as a district councillor since 2008. Mr Sin believes voters are likely to suppport experienced politicians.

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions vice-chairperson, Chan Yuen-han believes the pro-democracy young candidates will not pose a threat to the pro-establishment camp.

"Young people have a passion for politics," said the 68-year-old legislator. "But they lack the ability to think and analyse the situation comprehensively like expereienced polticians like us."

Despite the obstacles, many young candidates are determined to run.

Baggio Leung Chung-heng, convenor of a new political group Youngspiration, said running for district councillor was not only about gaining seats, but to change people's perception.

Youngspiration, which aims to become a voice for young people, are sending nine candidates aged from 23 to 29 to run in the election. The group positions itself as a "third power," which means it neither belongs to the pro-Beijing camp nor the pro-democracy camp.

"We want to make an impression that offering giveaways is not the only promotional strategy for district councillors," Mr Leung said. "Apart from serving the community, we work with all stakeholders in the community to create a better society."

Mr Sin said young candidates have their own strengths. For example, young residents tend to vote for people of a similar age, whom they believe are more likely to understand their needs.

Since most of the young candidates from the post-Occupy groups lack of election experience, some organisations act as supporting groups for the aspiring young candidates.

A group named "80s Momentum" is one of them. The group was formed in April 2015 by the post-80s generation who stationed at Causeway Bay during the Occupy Movement. Its task now is to help new faces in the upcoming district council election.

"We also want to fight for democracy after the Occupy Movement, but being frontline fighters isn't the only way," said Kevin Ko Tim-fai, director of 80s Momentum.

Mr Ko said the group organised workshops and invited former councillors to share their experience and give advice.

"Equipping fellow young people with the skills to run for an election is how we fight for democracy after the protest," said Anthony Cheong Yan-ying, another director of the organisation.

(Edited by Tina Cheung and Kumiko Lau.)

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