Election wash-up: Occupy was an issue, but not on Lantau

Randy Yu earned himself a profile in the SCMP last week in the wake of his Lantau election victory. It was the kind of flattering story on a pro-government figure commonly-found in Hong Kong print media these days.

It skipped the inconvenient fact of Yu shrinking the establishment vote by a third, but is otherwise is a useful introduction to someone who will likely have an influence on Lantau issues for many years to come.

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It makes the point that anyone who has dealt with him will make – that Yu is likeable and reasonable to deal with. Unlike his predecessor, he has a genuine interest in tackling local problems and is willing to reach out to find solutions (I have had discussions with him in my role as a broadband advocate).

That said, his candidacy was backed by the four rural committees, and if it comes to a choice between development and the local environment, there is only one way he will vote. But there is  potential for some progress on the issues in between.

In her thorough election analysis political scientist Suzanner Pepper argues that Occupy was a important issue because the anti-Occupy forces made it so. The election day issue of Ta Kung Pao carried the headline: “Use Your Vote: Send the Trouble-Makers Packing.”

This emphasises the Lantau difference. Occupy was hardly an issue here, partly because it had no direct impact as well as the fact that there were so many local issues on the table – roads, transport, bridges and the whole Lantau development palooza. Compared to the rest of Hong Kong, the outlying islands really are… outliers.

Pepper also stresses the point made in this blog that, for all their limitations, District Councils matter.

The upside for pan-democrats is that thanks to Occupy and its opponents, voters are finally focusing on political realities. Hong Kong’s District Councils are part of the larger political struggle against the advance of mainland political ways.  If anyone wants to stand guard against that advance, they need to begin on the bottom rung of the ladder … instead of writing off these councils as democracy activists have always been inclined to do.

That is a breakthrough. Next perhaps the pan-Democrats might take an interest in environmental and urban planning issues.

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