Date
24 October 2017
The Democratic Party lost a lot of supporters in the 2012 Legco election after it voted for the government's electoral reform proposal in 2010. It campaigned on an anti-communist platform during the election. Photo: HKEJ
The Democratic Party lost a lot of supporters in the 2012 Legco election after it voted for the government's electoral reform proposal in 2010. It campaigned on an anti-communist platform during the election. Photo: HKEJ

Spare a dime for Democratic Party

Spare a thought for the Democratic Party.

Its 20th anniversary fund-raising dinner on Feb. 27 is expected to raise HK$3 million, according to fund-raising manager Fred Li Wah-ming.

The target amount cannot even purchase a public housing estate unit.

It also pales in comparison to the HK$68 million that the pro-government DAB was able to raise last April. A calligraphy painting by Liaison Office director Zhang Xiaoming was sold for HK$13.8 million.

If this were football, the DAB would look like Real Madrid and the Democratic Party like South China AA. It would be a mismatch.

What’s even odd is that our Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying ordered his entire cabinet to boycott the fund-raising dinner in revenge for its open opposition to the government’s electoral reform proposal. Does he really have to be so mean? 

Instead of showing rancor, perhaps CY Leung should exercise magnanimity and offer his HK$50 million paycheque from UGL, a deal whose propriety the party has been questioning. 

By not doing so, Leung missed the golden chance of buying votes from the moderate democrats, who are in danger of facing the fate of Nokia. 

Just like the once dominant mobile phone maker, the Democratic Party under founder Martin Lee Chu-ming and Szeto Wah got off to a good start after the June 4th movement.

It was a party to reckon with in the run up to the 1997 handover because its members always ranked high in terms of popularity among the middle class, especially in the legal, education, social work and media sectors.

The Democratic Party is like a DVD disc: you can’t remember when you started not buying it but it must have been a long time.

Competition in the pan-democratic camp is one big reason for its collapse. Its members are not as articulate as those in the Civic Party and they are far more rational than People Power in an era where democrats must act like radicals to draw public attention.

The party has an identity problem. Its support for the 2010 government constitutional reform disappointed many supporters and eventually led to last year’s Occupy movement, in which the party had only a small role to play.

Its core member Albert Ho Chun-yan was caught browsing girlie pictures on his iPad during last year’s budget speech at Legco. But that faux pas was less mind-boggling than his latest move to quit his super legislator seat and trigger a de facto referendum, which has only triggered minor ripple effect on political reform.

Even if Szeto Wah were alive, the party would have a difficult decision to make. If it supports the fake universal suffrage, it would disappoint many of its supporters and get clobbered in the next district elections. But if it rejects the government proposal, it will probably die too but more slowly.

We do not mean to smear the party. We still respect it for organizing the annual June 4th candlelight vigil and for being in the forefront of the fight for democracy in Hong Kong.

Nor do we advise you to bottom-fish in the wake of the market’s weak fundamentals and poor outlook.

We only want to make a little point: if you don’t want media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to foot all the bills in the struggle for democracy, perhaps you would care to spare a dime for the party and pray it would have a better fate than DVD and Nokia. 

– Contact us at [email protected] 

BK/JP/CG

EJ Insight writer

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