Democrats to let voters decide for themselves

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am

The last time the Democratic Party tried to manipulate Hong Kong Island voters to ensure its allies also won Legislative Council seats, the move backfired. So this year the party insists it won't be recommending how supporters should vote.

Still, it hopes families who support the pan-democrats will give them a vote and also cast a ballot for the Civic Party, said Yeung Sum, who is running for re-election in the constituency.

'Unlike the last election, the Democratic Party will not make recommendations to voters to co-ordinate their votes. They will know how to vote themselves,' Dr Yeung said.

In the 2004 election, an attempt to distribute pan-democratic votes between the Democratic Party and a team led by Audrey Eu Yuet-mee failed, leading to doubts about the usefulness of recommending electors vote a certain way.

Fearing its share of the vote would fall short, the party made a last-minute call to pan-democrat supporters to vote Democrat, drawing votes away from Ms Eu's team. As a result, her running mate Cyd Ho Sau-lan lost her Legco seat.

Tanya Chan, who heads the Civic Party's list, said it would be difficult to co-ordinate voting. 'Voters should see clearly what kind of legislator they want before casting their vote,' Ms Chan said.

The Democratic Party presented its candidates for the constituency yesterday. Kam Nai-wai, who appeared with running mates Dr Yeung and Kevin Tsui Yuen-wah, said they were confident of winning at least one of the six seats despite facing 'clear difficulties'.

'We are pragmatic and we have long worked for the welfare of Hong Kong residents,' he said. 'Some people rely on political stars, but we rely on real work in the district.'

The announcement regarding Mr Kam removed doubts that the Democrats might pick a veteran with a higher profile to lead its challenge, given its doubtful prospects.

Party vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai bowed out of the race to make way for Mr Kam, who, as a long-serving district councillor, has often complained about being denied a chance to climb the political ladder.

Observers believe the pan-democrats can gain up to three seats on the island. The Civic Party has hopes of winning two, meaning the Democratic Party is fighting allies as well as Beijing loyalists.

At least three other pan-democrat teams are running, as well as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a five-person list headed by former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.