Veterans leave the battlefield
By CATHERINE NG
DOZENS of long-serving Urban and Regional Councillors have chosen not to stand in the first full-scale municipal-level elections in March.
Many were elected or appointed in the late 1970s, while some became councillors as far back as the 1950s.
The most senior member on the Urban Council, Brook Bernacchi, 73, said he would not stand because the council was becoming increasingly politicised.
'The council, which I enjoyed very much for so many years, is very different now,' he said.
'It is much more politicised, and is going to be a place for political infighting.' He believes this will make the council less effective.
Mr Bernacchi, elected in 1952, has long been a colleague of 81-year-old Legislative Councillor Elsie Tu, who has chosen to compete with Democratic Party heavweight Szeto Wah for a municipal seat in Kwun Tong North.
Mr Bernacchi said another factor contributing to his decision was the lack of a universal franchise.
The former vice-chairman of the Urban Council, Lo King-man, backed Mr Bernacchi's statement, saying that further politicisation of the council had driven him to pursue other channels for serving the community.
Mr Lo, appointed in 1984, said: 'It is a growing trend that the municipal councils will be occupied by political parties. And only limited room will be allowed for the independents.
'It is also a growing tendency that the councils' issues will be looked at from a district-level perspective. It is, however, not a healthy development.' Other veteran councillors leaving the scene include Stephen Lau Man-lung, Samuel Wong Ping-wai, Marvin Cheung Kin-tung and Young Tse-kong - all from the Urban Council.
Leaving the Regional Council are Cheung Yan-lung, Dr Pang Hok-tuen, Chau How-chen, Chau Chun-wing, Chow Yick-hay and Dr Fanny Cheung Mui-ching.
Others have decided to leave the municipal arena for a wider field.
Frederick Fung Kin-kee, from the Association of Democracy for People's Livelihood, and Democratic Party member Albert Chan Wai-yip have set their sights on a Legislative Council seat. Elections are due in September.