Democrats 'may face attacks' in July 1 march
Amid intensifying criticism being levelled at the Democratic Party for its support of the government's reform proposal, the League of Social Democrats said it could not control any radical action by its supporters during the annual July 1 march.
The warning by league lawmaker Wong Yuk-man came as Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he was prepared for a bad reception at the march, which his party will attend. At a press conference, the league announced that it was reviewing whether to treat the Democratic Party as an ally in light of the latest developments. League chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang said the democratic party should consider whether to take part in the march.
'We are fighting for the introduction of universal suffrage in 2012 and abolishing functional constituencies. The government has already surrendered - why is it still going to march?' To said. He accused the party of 'trying to play victim' in recent days, citing vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing's condemnation of people who swore at moderate democrats during RTHK's City Forum programme on Sunday.
'Perhaps the party thought it could score some political points if its members tripped over during the march,' Wong said. 'The league has not ordered our supporters to rush them, but when the people are angry, we can't guarantee anything.'
Wong said he personally 'does not oppose' league supporters mobbing Democrats taking part in the demonstration to express their anger. 'I expect the July 1 march will be very chaotic. The Communist Party will be very happy,' he said.
Flanked by his party colleagues, lawmakers from the Civic Party and other independent pan-democrats in a separate press conference, Ho said he was prepared for the worst but trusted the public to hold an orderly demonstration. 'People will be angry and criticise us, and I am prepared for this. We will call for our supporters to be relaxed about the criticism,' Ho said.
There was tension in the air when, one by one, those present at the press conference called for restraint. Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, a march organiser, said any violence would mean people had fallen into Beijing's trap of splitting the camp.
'Whether you support or oppose the reform proposal, our differences are only the internal differences of people over strategy. July 1 is about people power - only by coming out united we can demonstrate our power,' Lee said.
Ho said the Democratic Party had no intention of keeping a low profile during the march, despite suggestions to the contrary on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a survey of 853 respondents conducted by Chinese University during the Legco debate on the reform package last week found that 60.6 per cent of respondents said they supported the Democratic Party's proposal, while 28 per cent said they opposed it. Asked whether the proposal should have been passed, 60.4 per cent said 'yes' and 30.3 per cent said 'no'.
But the proposal's safe passage through the Legislative Council, amid a split among pan-democrats, has yet to affect the popularity of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, according to the survey. It recorded Tsang's rating as 49.6 points on a 100-point scale. The survey has a plus-or-minus 3.36 percentage point margin of error.