Democrat heavyweights urged to stand again

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2008, 12:00am

Two former Democratic Party lawmakers are being lobbied to stand in September's Legislative Council election in an attempt to maintain the party's strength in the chamber.

Party vice-chairman Tik Chi-yuen, who stepped down as a legislator 13 years ago, and Michael Ho Mun-ka, who quit eight years ago, are being urged to run again.

Mr Tik, 50, a former executive director of the Society for the Aged, said many fellow social workers and party colleagues had been trying to persuade him to contest the social welfare sector functional constituency seat.

And although he preferred not to run again, Mr Tik - a directly elected lawmaker for New Territories North from 1991 to 1995 - said he did not rule it out.

'It is a very complicated matter. I prefer internal party work to legislative work, but on the other hand I understand the party needs strengthening, and having heavyweights run for Legco is good for the party.'

If Mr Tik decides to run, he will face strong competition from Peter Cheung Kwok-che, president of the Social Workers' General Union, who has secured the union's endorsement. Another possible candidate, the Civic Party's Chong Chan-yau, said he had not decided whether to run.

Mr Tik said his position as vice-chairman might have led to expectations that he should take the lead to revive the party, but denied that winning was the primary concern.

His party colleague Mr Ho, 52, legislator for the health services sector from 1991 to 2000 and now a Hospital Authority manager, confirmed he had been urged to run.

However, he said he would definitely not stand. 'I decided to step down and there is no reason for me to return to old life,' Mr Ho said.

Mr Tik stressed that suggestions that the two of them should run had only been mentioned in personal discussions and had not been raised in party meetings.

He said fielding former lawmakers might not be good for the party's public image, since there was keen expectations of new blood.

Political scientist Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, said that if the Democrats were considering having senior members stand in the two functional constituencies, it could reflect fears that the pan-democratic camp could lose those seats.

He said calls for parties to make way for new blood had focused on directly elected seats and he believed any former lawmaker running in functional constituencies might not necessarily be an obstacle to younger members.