Hint at leaving poll talks over Democrats' stance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am

The Democratic Party was under pressure to review its position in the pan-democratic camp's negotiations on a unity candidate for a Legislative Council by-election on Hong Kong Island after allies who are also interested in running hinted they could quit the race.

The pan-democratic camp aims to field a joint candidate to maximise its chance of victory. But one pan-democrat leader warned that any candidate without a strong chance of winning would not be stomached.

At negotiations attended by 13 representatives of pan-democratic parties, Lo Wing-lok, of the League of Social Democrats, proposed that someone able to mobilise the 'greatest support' in the districts, such as a member of the Democratic Party, should be adopted as a candidate.

'The Democratic Party has the strongest district base and nobody is in a stronger position.

'While it has not reached the stage for the league to quit, we all hope to maximise the camp's chance of winning,' he said after the meeting.

Former legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of the pressure group Civic Act-up, who has declared her intention to run, said she was 'open to the idea' of choosing a representative by negotiation.

Dr Lo's proposal startled allies because the league had declared it would field a candidate.

Some pan-democrats saw it as a tactic to put pressure on the Democratic Party, which insists a candidate's support among district councillors be a factor in the selection process in addition to popularity polls and the support of legislators.

The party, for which Kam Nai-wai is a possible candidate, has more district councillors than the League of Social Democrats. However, if former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who heads think-tank the Savantas Policy Institute, runs on behalf of the Beijing-friendly camp, the democrats' only hope of victory is to field a high-profile candidate who enjoys cross-sector support and not just the support of district councillors.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, who convened the negotiation session, warned that the camp would not support anyone who they considered unable to win in the election.

'What's the point of negotiation if the candidate cannot win? We will not stomach someone whom we cannot stomach,' she said.

Negotiations are set to continue on Sunday and Monday.

The by-election for the Hong Kong Island, which was triggered by Beijing loyalist Ma Lik's death, is set to be held after the district council elections, which fall on November 18.