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Politics

'Umbrella soldier' mulls run for LegCo

HONG KONG   In Hong Kong's district council election in November 2015, the traditional political parties unexpectedly lost several seats to new faces like Andy Chui Chi-kin. The 48 year-old businessman defeated a pro-establishment veteran lawmaker Christopher Chung Shu-kun. Chui is known as an umbrella soldier," one of those inspired by the Umbrella Movement -- a group of citizens who took to the streets in 2014 to press for unrestricted universal suffrage.

Chui Chi-kin

     This new cadre of politicians, who won a total of nine seats, has forced existing parties to adjust their pitch for the upcoming Legislative Council election this fall. They are scrambling to nominate younger members and appeal to first-time voters.

     Chui recently spoke with the Nikkei Asian Review about his political stance and the LegCo election.

How will new faces such as yours affect the political landscape of Hong Kong?   I think traditional parties will suffer. They may lose some seats in the Legislative Council. New faces can get approximately three to four seats in the council. Hong Kong people are now fed up with the old parties, because they are quite bossy and stand only to protect their own profits, instead of the people's benefits. Maybe the [voters] just want somebody who is independent. I am independent and have not joined any political parties before. I take responsibility for the citizens without any burden.

Are you going to run for the Legislative Council election in September?   I have not decided yet. I have to focus on my district first. There are so many [things] to do. I need more time to make my community better. [My decision] depends on the situation of the pan-democratic camp. [If] people in the pan-democrat camp do not cooperate with each other closely enough, I will consider [running]. There are six seats for the Hong Kong Island [constituency], and if you can get around 10% of the vote, you can win a seat. But I have never thought about the chance of winning.

     The money factor is quite important. It costs about 500,000 to 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($64,500 to $129,000). Not everyone is able to spend this amount of money, and even [risk] losing it all.

What is the difference between you and the pan-democrats?   I have the same goal as the pan-democrats, which is universal suffrage. I am an independent. I do not have any [restrictions]. I can think out of the box. Pan-democrats protect their parties' benefits rather than protecting the whole pan-democrats' benefits. That is [a] situation I do not feel comfortable [in].

The electoral reform bill was vetoed by the pan-democrats in June 2015 following protests by the Umbrella Movement. How will you respond to any new proposals?   If there is a new round of political reform, maybe the result [will be] the same. They are not going to give real democracy to Hong Kong people, which is not acceptable to us.

How do you feel about moderate political parties that say they may negotiate with the central government for a better solution?   What the new moderate political parties are proposing is not I want. That still does not meet my goal. What I know is that the central government wants to control Hong Kong, and they will leave no room for us to for bargain anything.

Interviewed by Nikkei staff writers Yasuo Awai and Zheng Zhi

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