Liberal Party likely to discuss internal row only after mid-Aug

July 12, 2019 11:35
The Liberal Party has seen dissension break out within its top ranks in relation to the party's approach toward the government's failed extradition bill. Photo: HKEJ

The Liberal Party has seen a row erupt within its ranks, with some members questioning the party's decision to release a statement supporting the resumption of second reading of the extradition bill immediately after the June 9 mass demonstration by citizens.

Earlier this week, the party's four honorary chairpersons -- James Tien Pei-chun, Miriam Lau Kin-yee, Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee and Vincent Fang Kang -- sent a joint letter to party chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan demanding that he resign from the Executive Council, the advisory body to the Hong Kong chief executive.

Tien slammed Cheung for insisting on issuing a statement of support for the Legco extradition bill process despite the June 9 protest, arguing that the statement was tantamount to making the Liberal Party "an accomplice" in the legislative push.

Tien went on to say that Cheung released the statement unilaterally without informing key party heavyweights, including the honorary chairpersons.

Cheung hit back, claiming that Tien's allegations were incorrect and that the statement was released only with the agreement of party lawmakers.

We have learnt that the Liberal Party will hold a caucus this afternoon.

Felix Chung Kwok-pan, a party leader, on Thursday told us that the meeting won’t discuss the joint letter written by the four honorary chairpersons.

It is understood that the meeting will not discuss the Cheung issues, and that the party will defer the discussion of those issues and the joint letter until after mid-August, when everyone, including the “Big 4”, return from their summer vacation.

The spat among the key Liberal party members has sparked chatter within political circles as to whether the party would once again split.

A figure within the party told us that the four honorary chairs have been keeping an extremely close eye on the extradition bill saga in recent months.

As they opted to bring their differences with Cheung into the open even at the risk of angering the chairman, it suggests that the honorary chairpersons are very unhappy with the June 9 statement.

When asked how things will play out, Selina Chow told us Thursday that they are in no hurry to have the issue settled. She estimated that the party won’t discuss it until mid or late August, so as to allow more time for the matter to “sink in”.

Chow stressed that the objections raised by her and her fellow honorary chairs have nothing to do with an individual, and that it's all a matter of principle.

She also said that party members who want to serve on the government's Executive Council should relinquish any key posts they may hold within the party.

That is because the Liberal Party's take on some big policy issues may not necessarily be in alignment with the stand taken by the government, Chow said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 12

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.