Democrats reject league's demand to cut Beijing link
Democratic Party leaders have rejected as 'unacceptable' demands made by the League of Social Democrats to end all communication with Beijing, paving the way for the league to leave the pan-democratic camp altogether.
The Democrats were instrumental in getting the government's political reform proposals passed in Legco after consulting with Beijing officials. The consultations and the support for the government infuriated the league, which has since developed cracks in its own party's unity.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the Democrats could not accept any of the demands made in a letter sent by the league on September 27.
In the letter, league chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang pressed the Democrats to end 'closed-door politics with the communist power', and 'resign and run for election again to get a public mandate'.
If they would not comply, then the democrats should withdraw from regular meetings with other pan-democrats and stop the carving-up of electoral constituencies aimed at ensuring pan-democratic candidates did not stand against each other.Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said it was a simple decision to turn down the league's demands.
'The second we got the letter, we felt the league's wish list was unacceptable,' Lau said. 'That was an issue of principle.'
Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said a written reply had been sent, detailing the party's constitutional reform negotiations with Beijing. It also said party members would continue to take part in pan-democrats' lunch meetings, which have served as a communications platform.
Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the demands were simply gestures to pave the way for the league to leave the pan-democratic camp.
'The league members would have known their requests were unrealistic at the beginning,' the Chinese University analyst said. 'If the Democratic Party has turned down the demands, splitting from the camp becomes justifiable.'
An internal split has also emerged among league members. To said a decision whether to leave or not would depend on the Democrats' reply. But he added: 'Even if we withdraw, pro-establishment parties would still be our first and foremost target in elections.'
But league founder Wong Yuk-man took a hard line, saying they should immediately leave the pan-democratic camp once the Democrats have rejected their demands.
'The so-called in-party cracks portrayed by the media were due to the fantasies of some [league] members that there are still rooms for talks with the Democrats,' Wong said. 'It is not important even if the future confrontation between us and the Democrats would be 'double losses' for the pan-democrats - the Democratic Party is no longer a member of the camp anyway.'