Departures not sign of exodus, say Democrats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am

The Democratic Party leadership yesterday denied there was an exodus of members, despite four district councillors quitting the party and continued pressure to publicise their membership register.

Party secretary-general Cheung Yin-tung confirmed that four district councillors have recently resigned from the party, the latest Democrats to quit.

'But there is definitely not an exodus of party members. Most of the people who quit left for different reasons,' Mr Cheung said. 'We still consider them friends in the path of democracy.'

Since January 2005, 46 people left and 40 joined the party, which has about 600 members.

The latest to leave were Kwun Tong district councillors Danny Chin Ching-man and Alice Lee Ling, and Kowloon City councillors Ben Au Ka-shing and Lam Kin-man.

Mr Chin, who was a founding member of the party, said it was time to move on.

'I've been in the party for a long time and I think I'll have more freedom to serve as a district councillor if I go independent,' he said.

He denied being disillusioned with the group's objectives on democracy, but said any party should focus both on democratic progress and people's livelihood. 'I hope the party will improve, although I am leaving. The path for me has not been easy,' he said.

At present, the party has 79 district councillors - in contrast to the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong's team of 80-plus.

Mr Cheung admitted that the party was under pressure to publicise its membership register, which was previously kept secret.

It is the only major party which refused to reveal its membership - a requirement under the Companies Ordinance. It is negotiating a government exemption.

Many members worry that revealing their link to the party could cause political repercussions.