Judging from the results of the election of the Hong Kong members to the National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on December 15, the election was a competitive one in which 1,273 voters cast their ballots freely and made their choices in accordance with the candidates’ reputation and political background. While candidates affiliated with the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) seemed to have an upper hand, independent candidates without party affiliation did very well in general – a testimony to the competitive atmosphere in the Hong Kong NPC election.
Table 1 below sums up the results of the elected candidates who ran for the election of the Hong Kong NPC members.
The elected candidates tended to have five characteristics. First, they are highly reputable, such as Professor Nancy Ip who got the highest number of votes, followed by Kenneth Fok who acquired 1248 votes. Second, most of them have strong affiliation with various patriotic groups in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), including the DAB and BPA. Third, the fifteen incumbent NPC members running as candidates tended to have an upper hand and were all elected because of their established status and wide recognition among a majority of the voters of the Election Committee. After all, many of the 1,273 voters who cast their ballots were affiliated with local patriotic interest groups. Third, twelve existing LegCo members were elected, showing their popularity among the voters, and occupying one-third of the elected Hong Kong NPC members. Fourth, although the DAB had seven members who were elected, many independent candidates without party affiliation also won the election – evidence pointing to the fact that affiliations with patriotic groups and personal reputation could rival the party-affiliated candidates. The Business Professionals Alliance (BPA) had two candidates elected, namely Priscilla Leung and Jimmy Ng. The Liberal Party (LP) managed to get two members elected, namely Nicholas Chan and Tommy Li. From the perspective of party politics, DAB remains much stronger than the BPA and LP. Fifth, some CPPCC members succeeded in getting elected as NPC members, showing their success in climbing up the political ladder. Examples include Kenneth Fok, Rock Chen, Ling Yu-shih, George Lau, Starry Lee, and Kennedy Wong.
Table 1: The 14th Election of the Hong Kong NPC Members
The six defeated candidates can be seen in Table 2 below. They put up a strong showing. However, the defeat of Tse Oi-hung, who succeeded former FTU chair Cheng Yiu-tong, pointed to her relatively weak affiliation with other patriotic groups. Moreover, her personal reputation appeared to need more time to develop among the voters. Some observers attributed Tse’s defeat to the structural change in the composition of the Election Committee, whose members came from many other pro-Beijing organizations, notably clan and townspeople associations, women federations, district federations (Hong Kong Island Federation, Kowloon Federation and New Territories Federation) and other business enterprises. As a result, the role and influence of the FTU has been curbed in the new set-up of the voters of the Election Committee. Similarly, Andrew Fan, the son of the former NPC standing committee member Rita Fan, was defeated, showing that it takes time for him to build up his power base and reputation although the China National Youth Federation of Associations is an important group in the patriotic front. It will take some time for the newcomers of the Hong Kong NPC election to increase their political weight in the coming years. Still, the defeated candidates would stand a chance to replace any elected member who may vacate his or her position in the future.
One interesting phenomenon of the Hong Kong NPC election was that 173 voters of the Election Committee were absent from voting. Some of the absentees were reportedly affected by Covid-19. One of the absentees was the former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who was absent reportedly due to health reasons.
Given that DAB heavyweight Tam Yiu-chung stepped down from the position of being a Hong Kong member of the NPC standing committee, there are speculations on who would likely replace him. Three elected Hong Kong NPC members have been mentioned in the local media, including Starry Lee, Ma Fung-kwok and Stanley Ng. The situation will become clear in March 2023 when the NPC meeting will be held and as NPC members will elect the members of the NPC Standing Committee.
The role of Hong Kong NPC members is important: they serve as a bridge between the HKSAR and the central government in Beijing. It remains to be seen how the elected Hong Kong NPC members will articulate the interests of Hong Kong and reflect the views of the Hong Kong people to the central authorities.
In conclusion, the recent election held for the Hong Kong NPC members was a great success. The election results showed that those candidates with strong personal reputations tended to be popular among the voters of the Election Committee. The fact that academic Nancy Ip and legislator Kenneth Fok could be elected with the highest number of votes showed that candidates without party affiliations could be very successful. Many other candidates affiliated with the groups on the patriotic front tended to have a strong electoral performance. Incumbent legislators and NPC members obviously had the upper hand, while some CPPCC members climbed up their political ladder successfully. If “patriots ruling Hong Kong” is the new political order of the HKSAR, the Hong Kong NPC election is undoubtedly a testimony to this political development.