Unionist floats idea for a labour party

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2006, 12:00am

A new middle-of-the-road labour party should be formed to push for gradual democratic change while still being able to communicate with the central government and upholding workers' rights, a pro-Beijing unionist legislator proposed yesterday.

Kwong Chi-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was incapable of coming up with 'a future' for constitutional reform and neither could the democrats and pro-Beijing parties.

'The only hope lies with a labour party which could communicate with Beijing,' he said.

Mr Kwong said he had nothing to do with an earlier idea by the federation's chairman, Cheng Yiu-tong, that a new labour party should be formed as a political arm of the union.

Stressing his proposal was his own idea, Mr Kwong said there should be a party totally separate from the federation and the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Apart from fighting for labour rights, the party's platform would focus on eliminating the 30 functional constituencies in the legislature. After this it would create a system for advance screening of chief executive candidates who would then contest a direct election to give Beijing peace of mind.

Mr Kwong said he was approaching several legislators and academics, and a few had responded positively. Those being targeted to join the party were independent democrats.

Pro-democracy unionist Lau Chin-shek of the Confederation of Trade Unions, who was approached by Mr Kwong, said it was too early to say whether the idea would work but there was room for discussion.

Unionist Leung Yiu-chung said he was not too interested in the idea, but health services sector legislator Joseph Lee Kok-long said there was room for co-operation.

However, unionist Lee Cheuk-yan said: 'It will only be a leftist party in a new guise, because who will believe they will not fall into line once Beijing has blown the whistle?'