20 July 2019
Suggestions for a merger of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood with other political groups in the pro-democracy camp have evoked mixed feeling among the former’s members. Photo: HKEJ
Suggestions for a merger of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood with other political groups in the pro-democracy camp have evoked mixed feeling among the former’s members. Photo: HKEJ

ADPL members have reservations about merger with other parties

It’s been almost a month since Frederick Fung Kin-kee left the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL), the political party which he co-founded back in the 1980s and which he had been serving as chairman for a long time.

Yet some members of the party said they wouldn’t miss him.

Instead, they believed his departure has presented a new opportunity for the party to rejuvenate itself and bring in more young faces. Some members have even proposed that the party change its name so as to get rid of its outdated image.

However, many in the political circles are anything but optimistic about the future of the ADPL in its post-Fung era.

It is because as the party’s only Legislative Council member in the past, Fung had long remained a by-word for the ADPL in the public eye before he left.

It is known that, thanks to his popularity, members of the party had little difficulty raising money to fund their election campaigns, which explains why this small left-wing party was able to field 26 to 30 candidates to run in District Council (DC) elections in the past.

But since Fung lost in the Legco election in 2016, the party was expected to have a hard time in allocating resources to the DC elections next year. In fact it is estimated that the ADPL is likely to send only 20 candidates at most to run in the upcoming DC elections due to its shrinking resources.

While it remains to be seen whether Fung’s departure would have profound implications for the ADPL’s fundraising capacity as some have expected, at least one thing is for certain right now: the party is currently relying almost entirely on its monthly political donation program and the contributions made by its District Councilors from part of their salaries to sustain its operation.

Mindful of the uncertainties hanging over his party’s future, Sze Tak-loy, the current chairman of the ADPL and an incumbent member of the Wong Tai Sin District Council, has proposed that the party form an alliance or even merge with other political groups in the pro-democracy camp.

Yet the suggestion of merging with other groups in the camp has raised quite a lot of concerns among ADPL members.

For one thing, among the various political parties in Hong Kong, the ADPL is the one that is both left-wing, and attentive to and focused on local and community issues.

Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre (NWSC) may be the only one that adopts close political ideologies as the ADPL.

Unfortunately, the NWSC has been engulfed by a series of problems in recent months, which means it doesn’t have time to seriously think about forming an alliance or merging with the ADPL.

As far as other left-wing groups such as the Labour Party and the League of Social Democrats (LSD) are concerned, some ADPL members have pointed out that they simply aren’t on the same page when it comes to ideologies and political approaches.

For example, while the Labour Party isn’t that focused on community issues, the LSD is far more interested in staging protests and putting up fights against the government.

As such, the ADPL members are worried that divergence and division would arise after any merger. Hence, it is quite unlikely that the ADPL would integrate with any one of them.

And then there is the Democratic Party, which has absorbed quite a number of former ADPL members in the past.

Nonetheless, a member of the ADPL has stated in no uncertain terms that his partymates have no intention whatsoever to cooperate with the Democrats, for the time being.

Nor, it is said, are the Democrats keen on merging or forming a united front with the ADPL.

According to another ADPL member, the Democrats are leaning right when it comes to economic policies as opposed to the left-wing stance adopted by the ADPL, though the Democrats are equally stressing the importance of community issues. The political ideologies held by the ADPL and the Democratic Party are not entirely the same.

Also, merging with the Democratic Party means that they may also have to toe its line and bear the “original sin” of supporting the listing of the Link REIT as well, which is the last thing that any ADPL member wants, the member said.

As such, the ADPL member believes the ADPL would rather stick to its left-wing, grassroots-focused party line and continue with its own journey.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 7

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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