The two non-ethnic Chinese candidates were both rejected by the 1,500-strong Election Committee which chooses almost half of Legco.
Lan Kwai Fong group founder Zeman pointed to “voter diversity” for his defeat, suggesting some people didn’t understand his campaign speeches because they were in English.
“I think maybe it was voter diversity, my speeches were in English along with Mike Rowse, and it’s possible in some of the districts some people didn’t even understand the English and it’s possible maybe people just decided I wasn’t the right one for the job,” Zeman said on RTHK’s Backchat programme.
Rowse, a former director-general of InvestHK, boasted of having had a “bold manifesto” and said he was surprised neither of them got into Legco, because they had been encouraged to run and had secured enough nominations to do so.
“I think the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office made some remarks about the diversity of the candidates and I think it was possible he would have liked one of us to have won, but as it turns out, neither of us did,” said Rowse.
He added that there wasn’t much of a language barrier for him personally, because he had spoken a little bit of Cantonese and had provided election material in Chinese.
Despite their disappointment, the pair urged the people of Hong Kong to give the new-look legislature a chance.