23 April 2019
Some of the Democratic Party members who announced their resignations from the party speak at a news conference on Wednesday wherein they voiced their grievances. Photo: HKEJ
Some of the Democratic Party members who announced their resignations from the party speak at a news conference on Wednesday wherein they voiced their grievances. Photo: HKEJ

Democratic Party infighting on display again as 59 members quit

The Democratic Party has suffered another setback as 59 members, mostly from the New Territories East branch, have announced that they are quitting the party.

Resigning the party membership, some of the people said they decided to move out as they are unhappy with the “arbitrary behavior” of lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Except for one person who was from the party’s Hong Kong Island branch, all those who gave up the membership were from the Democratic Party’s New Territories East unit, where Lam serves as chair.

Among those who quit were Ricky Or Yiu-lam, who is chair of the Concern Group For Tseung Kwan O People’s Livelihood, and five district councilors — Ting Tsz-yuen, Ng Kam-hung and Li Wing-shing from Sha Tin District; Au Chun-wah from Tai Po District; and Lau Ki-fung from North District.

The latest wave of resignations was worse than a similar event that occurred in 2010, when more than 30 people quit the party together, a list that included lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai who subsequently set up the Neo Democrats political group.

On Wednesday, Or, Ting, Au and Lau and some others who resigned their memberships issued a a joint statement in which they lashed out at Lam, who represents New Territories East in the Legislative Council, describing him as a person of bad character and lacking in political morals.

Among other things, the resigning party members accused the lawmaker of misusing personal data, without giving details, RTHK reported.

As the central committee of the party did not deal with the issues concerned, they decided to quit, the group said at a joint press conference.

Li, who is former vice chairman of the party, did not show up at a news conference on Wednesday but he issued a separate statement in which he did not criticize Lam.

Or revealed that the quitting members will actively consider forming a new group, and that a decision will be announced at the appropriate time after deliberation.

While claiming that the party respects the personal decisions of the leaving members and that it does not intend to persuade the members to reconsider their resignations, given that they appear to have firmly made up their minds, party chairman Wu Chi-wai admitted that the departures could affect arrangements for future elections.

All he can do is continue coordination work as much as possible, the party chairman said.

The infighting within the party ranks has been brewing for some time. Tensions escalated after the party’s central committee, in late September, decided to treat the Concern Group for Tseung Kwan O People’s Livelihood (CGPLTKO) as a politically involved organization and ordered its members who are also part of the Democratic Party that they must only choose one of the two identities.

The bad blood resulting from the order intensified even more after Lam took over as chair of the New Territories East branch in mid-November.

In response to inquiries, Lam refuted the accusations made against him, saying he dealt with every issue as per established mechanisms, and that personal prejudices played no part.

Lam lashed out at some people in the party for backing non-members rather than members, arguing that it is such people who can be deemed as lacking in political morals.

Showing support for Lam, former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said in a statement that the allegations leveled against Lam are far from true, and that she has faith in Lam’s character and integrity.

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