League plans recovery after damaging split
The League of Social Democrats leadership has laid out plans it hopes will help it recover from a damaging split that has seen party founder Raymond Wong Yuk-man and legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip quit, taking more than 200 members with them.
Chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang said the 1,000-strong league had received 24 withdrawal notifications from members by Wednesday, since Wong and Chan's announcement on Sunday.
The number of seats the party holds on the Legislative Council decreased from three to one, with remaining lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung yet to decide whether he will stay or leave.
'It is time to move on again,' To said of the party's plans for the future.
The most urgent task was to retain the league's talisman lawmaker, Leung, he said.
Emerging from a spate of internal conflicts that ended in the parting of ways, To said the group should now focus on community work.
'We will make efforts to strengthen co-operation with civil and activist groups. In the past, some deliberately kept a distance from us because they disliked some people in the league. For example, we don't have to grab someone else's microphone when protesting in Tsoi Yuen Tsuen, and can participate in such activities in the way ordinary residents would.
'The league will also strengthen its dedication to the community. We will encourage our young members to go into the districts and not live in the virtual world,' he said, referring to members' habit of discussing issues online. 'In the past, the league was dubbed a 'ruling party on the internet'. Why should we stage infighting on Facebook and online forums? We need to strengthen our discipline and ask members to debate issues through internal channels.'
The league wants to enhance its district network by opening two more branches in New Territories West and Kowloon West, in addition to those in New Territories East and Kowloon East and on Hong Kong Island. It would also step up recruitment activities, To said.
It will hold by-elections to fill four positions on its executive committee at its February 12 annual general meeting. The seats were vacated via resignations over the past year.
Speaking of the months of infighting, To said: 'I regret having become the chairman. Before, I did not have to deal with so much trouble and quarrels.' But it was too early to decide whether he would seek another term as league chief, he said.
As for his personal political career, To, a district councillor in Wong Tai Sin since 1991, said he was considering whether to run in November's election. 'Residents have seen me for two decades. We have to consider whether we should let our younger tier of members run instead.'