Hong Kong Olympic Committee vice-president Kenneth Fok Kai-kong entered the race for the Legislative Council elections on Thursday, criticising the government for a lack of support for sport and culture, while noting artistic freedoms were protected by law.
Fok, who married retired diver and Olympic gold-medal winner Guo Jingjing in 2012, will represent the pro-establishment camp in September’s contest for the seat of the functional constituency of sports, performing arts, culture and publication.
He is being challenged by Herbert Chow Siu-lung, a former president of Hong Kong Tennis Association, and the owner of children’s clothing store chain Chickeeduck, who sparked a political controversy last month by displaying an anti-government statue at one of his shops.
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The pair are fighting to replace incumbent lawmaker, Ma Fung-kwok, 65, who is retiring.
Fok, 41, a delegate to the national advisory committee, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is the grandson of the late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, and the son of Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, who represented the sector in Legco from 1998 to 2012.
Kenneth Fok announced his bid in a press conference broadcast live on social media, and seven representatives of the industry also showed up to support him.
They included retired world cycling champion Wong Kam-po, bowling champion Wu Siu-hong, and theatre veteran Fredric Mao Chun-fai.
“Today, July 23, was supposed to be the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, which would have been the most important day for our sports sector in four years, but sadly it was postponed because of the pandemic,” Fok said.
“Back in Hong Kong, our industry has been badly hit by the pandemic as well, as many sports activities, performances of arts and culture have all been halted.”
Fok criticised the government for not giving enough support to sports and culture.
“We lack the backing of long-term, cross-departmental policies … The government doesn’t seem to understand how we work and what we need,” he said. “I will monitor the government and fight for long-term and consistent policies … The sector’s development needs to be sustainable, so that people can work in it with ease, and our city can become a civilised and high-quality cultural hub.”
Fok was accompanied by his wife Guo as he signed up for the election. When asked whether the arts would be constrained by the national security law Beijing imposed last month, Fok said he understood the sector valued freedom, which were protected by the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.
The law prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Riding on the momentum of the landslide victory of the district council elections last November, the opposition has targeted winning a majority in the 70-seat legislature for the first time, in a bid to force the government to relaunch democratic reforms.
Half of the seats will be contested in geographical constituencies, while the rest will come from trade-based functional constituencies.
To achieve the goal, the opposition has to win a majority in the geographical constituencies, as well as to secure a few more seats from the functional constituencies.
The sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, which has 4,268 voters who must be members of specific groups in the sector, is one of their main targets.
Fok has vowed to use his network to serve the industry, listening to their needs and reflecting them to the government for better policies.
Chow, announced his candidacy on Wednesday, and said one of his goals was to fight for freedom in Hong Kong.
“If Guo was not Fok’s wife, I believe she might vote for me,” he said. “She came from mainland China, she must have hoped to enjoy the freedoms of speech and [artistic] creation in Hong Kong.”
Additional reporting by Tony Cheung
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