Reformist group hasn't split party: Albert Ho
The formation of a separate activist group by Democratic Party members does not signal a split, party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said yesterday.
The party would continue to support its so-called Young Turks when they stand in next year's district council elections, he said.
Ho was speaking after 18 reformist members of the party and two former members announced the setting up of the NeoDemocrats to fight for universal suffrage. They said they were aggrieved by the decision of party leaders to discuss a compromise on electoral reform with the central government's liaison office, and by the party's subsequent vote in favour of the government's electoral reform proposals.
Yesterday Ho said: 'We are proud to be a political party which is tolerant of different voices. Members are welcome to do anything and say anything, including criticise, but not to the extent that it would damage the reputation of the party.'
Noting the reformists' opposition to the government's electoral reforms, he added: 'The fact that they have chosen to stay in the party means they still share the party's major principles. Otherwise they would have already quit.'
The new grouping attacked the party for failing to stand by its original beliefs and said it had lost the trust of Hong Kong people.
Yam Kai-bong, spokesman for the NeoDemocrats, said: 'Contrary to what some people want, we stay in the party to voice our views. We cherish the Democratic Party. If we quit, it will hurt the party even more.' Yam resigned from the party's central committee in June after it decided to back the government's electoral reforms.
The group officially announced its launch yesterday - the 16th anniversary of the Democratic Party's establishment. It plans to convene a general meeting of NeoDemocrat members later this year.
Of the group's 20 founding members, eight are district councillors. Ho said some of the reformists had already obtained the party's support for their candidacy in the district council elections next year and he did not find it a problem for them to contest the elections under the banner of both the NeoDemocrats and the Democratic Party.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai, another spokesman for the NeoDemocrats and a Sai Kung district councillor, said the establishment of the grouping might help voters distinguish more clearly candidates from different wings of the party. However, that was not the purpose of launching the group, he said.
Fan said the NeoDemocrats was a social movement, not a separate political party, and its aim was to push forward democracy by connecting various civil organisations in the city.
Meanwhile, League of Social Democrats chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang wrote to Ho urging Democrat lawmakers to resign and stand for re-election so that the public could decide whether it still wanted them as their representatives following Legco's passage of the electoral reforms. If the party did not agree to do so within four weeks, he said the league would ask it to withdraw from pan-democratic coalitions.