- It’s up to voters to decide if Hui should stay in politics, party chief says
- Eager to put past behind him, Hui says he’s ‘made poor political judgments’
An opposition lawmaker is expected to seek re-election in the Legislative Council polls in September after surviving his party's disciplinary action for snatching a civil servant's phone in 2018.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, 37, will likely be endorsed to defend his Hong Kong Island seat, party vice-chairman Lo Kin-hei said on Friday.
"I believe the public can see his level of involvement in the recent social movement," Lo said, referring to the ongoing anti-government protests which are now in their eighth month.
Hui has been seen often in recent months at protest sites, intervening between protesters and police.
During a protest on New Year's Day, he was pepper-sprayed at close range by an officer who twice removed the lawmaker's googles and asked him to retreat from a road to the pavement.
After early successes in the 2011 district council election and 2016 Legco polls, the politician's career appeared to be in tatters in 2018 after he took a phone away from senior executive officer Christina Leung Ngok-sze outside a Legco meeting.
She was one of the officers marshalling lawmakers into the meeting over a controversial government bill, and Hui felt it was wrong for the government to monitor lawmakers' whereabouts.
He snatched Leung's phone and dashed into a men's toilet, where he accessed the contents and forwarded five files to his own email account.
He was subsequently convicted of three charges of common assault, obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent and obstructing a public officer. He was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and fined HK$3,800.
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As a result of the case, the Democratic Party froze his membership and launched an internal disciplinary hearing. Former chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing called for Hui's resignation as a lawmaker and party member.
Party chairman Wu Chi-wai confirmed this week that Hui had kept his membership after the disciplinary process.
"Hui already received the appropriate punishment," Wu said, adding Hui had also been condemned internally within the party. "It is up to voters to decide if he should continue his political work."
According to the party, Hui has put his name into the hat for consideration as the candidate for the Hong Kong Island seat and, so far, he is the only member to have done so.
On Friday, Hui said he was confident about being endorsed to run, and added he had learned from the incident.
"The phone incident was part of the resistance within Legco," Hui said. "But there were times when I made poor political judgments."
In last November's district council elections, Hui contested the Chung Wan seat in Central and Western district, and won comfortably, defeating the pro-establishment camp's Wong Chung-wai.
Political commentator Chung Kim-wah believes the phone-snatching incident would not hurt Hui if he runs again for the Legco.
"Compared to the protests that have lasted more than half a year, I believe it was just a minor event," he said.
The Democratic Party has seven lawmakers, and there could be internal competition its Legco seat in Kowloon West, as incumbent lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan, 60, and Sham Shui Po district councillor Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, 33, have both put their names up for selection.
Chung said it was not unusual for Wong to want to seek re-election, as she was only in her second term as a lawmaker.
He said the party will have to consider whether Yuen is an appropriate successor and also weigh his level of recognition among voters.
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