Ex-activist not one of us, say pan-democrats

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 January, 2009, 12:00am

Anna Wu Hung-yuk was a staunch pro-democracy activist in the colonial days but many of her then allies stressed yesterday that she should not be seen as their representative in Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's cabinet.

Ms Wu, an adviser to the Shantou University law school founded by property tycoon Li Ka-shing, sidestepped a question about whether she regarded herself as a democrat.

Although she was once close to the democrats, veteran Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said Ms Wu could not be seen as representing the pan-democrat camp in Exco.

'She cannot represent the democratic camp and she can only be an outdated democrat,' he said. 'It has been a long time since she was involved in any social activities.'

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said Ms Wu could better understand the pan-democrat camp, but she was not a representative of it because she had not been active on the political stage for a few years.

At a press conference after the announcement of her appointment, Ms Wu sidestepped the question when asked if she considered herself a democrat. 'I have strong passion for democracy. But democracy has a broad definition and it is difficult to make a comparison between me and others,' she said. Pressed further on her stance on universal suffrage and the abolition of functional constituencies, Ms Wu said: 'Regarding the functional constituencies, I think it is a transitional arrangement.'

A source close to the government said Ms Wu was picked for her outspoken character, adding that she could demonstrate to the public that executive councillors were not just 'yes men'.

Ms Wu was handpicked by former governor Chris Patten to join the Legislative Council in 1992 and successfully forced the government to enact the sex discrimination ordinance in 1995 by tabling a private member's bill on equal opportunities.

When she served as the chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Ms Wu took the government to court over sex discrimination against schoolgirls. The High Court ruled in June 2001 that it was discriminatory to rank boys and girls separately under the 23-year-old central allocation system.

Exco convenor Leung Chun-ying welcomed Ms Wu's appointment, saying he respected her character.