Why Democrats' annual party will see more govt guests this year

February 23, 2018 11:28
A file picture shows Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, speaking at the party's 22nd anniversary reception in March 2017. Photo: HKEJ

Despite the ongoing controversies over co-location arrangement for the express rail project and the disqualification of Agnes Chow Ting from the Legco by-elections, relations between Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the pro-democracy camp are by and large better compared to what we saw during the time of Lam's predecessor, Leung Chun-ying.

Given that, it is expected that quite a number of government bureau chiefs will mark their attendance at the anniversary reception of the Democratic Party scheduled for March 20.

A few bureau chiefs have already agreed to show up for the event. They are Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, as well as the former democrat and now Secretary for Labor and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong. As far as Lam is concerned, she is yet to reply to the Democratic Party’s invitation. However, her right-hand man, Director of the Chief Executive’s Office Eric Chan Kwok-kee, has already agreed to attend the reception.

In March last year, Lam went to the Democrats’ anniversary reception in her capacity as candidate for the chief executive election, and then attended the anniversary reception of the Civic Party as chief executive-elect in May.

Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, chairperson of the fundraising committee of the anniversary reception, anticipates that more government officials are likely to attend this year's anniversary reception compared to last year. The reason, he believes, is because his party’s relations with the current administration have changed.

Back in the days when relations between former chief executive Leung and the pan-democrats were at rock bottom, the Democratic Party never invited him to its annual anniversary receptions. There was also talk that Leung had ordered bureau chiefs to boycott the event.

In 2016, Leung expressed willingness to attend the anniversary reception but he was not invited. At last, the then Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen attended the Democrats' annual party in that year. Yet no bureau chief was seen at the party’s anniversary reception last year.

Politically speaking, as the government has adopted a different approach and has been trying is to get along with the pan-dems since Lam took office, not to mention that Beijing has also been calling for harmony and reconciliation recently, it is believed that senior government officials of the current administration would be a lot more eager to come to the anniversary celebration party of the Democrats this year.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 21

Translation by Alan Lee with additonal reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.