Moderate democrats mull merger

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 February, 2011, 12:00am

A moderate pan-democratic group is canvassing the views of its members on its future development, including whether to merge with the Democratic Party.

Plagued by shrinking influence, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL), which has only one lawmaker and 16 district councillors, is facing a tough battle in district council elections scheduled for November. In the middle of last month, the 100-strong group set up a seven-member task force to explore its future development.

The task force will consult ADPL members on the group's relationship with other pan-democratic groups and a possible merger with the Democratic Party, the biggest party within the pan-democratic camp.

The ADPL, founded in 1986, shelved plans in September to seek a merger with the Democratic Party and other pan-democratic groups.

The two groups called for a dialogue with the central government on Hong Kong's political reform and voted in June in favour of the government proposal for the 2012 elections.

Tam Kwok-kiu, ADPL vice-chairman and convenor of the task force, said there was a need to discuss the group's position in the wake of recent internal strife within some pan-democratic parties.

The League of Social Democrats, a radical pan-democratic group, suffered a damaging split last month that has seen party founder Wong Yuk-man and legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip quit. A total of 196 members have resigned.

Twenty-eight members of the Democratic Party, who disagreed with the party's vote in favour of the government's electoral reforms for 2012, quit in December.

Some ADPL members said the exodus of the radical faction of the Democratic Party had removed one of the hurdles for the merger between the two groups. Tam said the task force would seek the views of active members and district councillors in the next two months. 'We will submit a report to the party's central committee by April for further discussion. But I believe we are unlikely to make major moves, including a merger with the Democratic Party, within this year,' he said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said his party would be willing to discuss the feasibility of a merger if members of the ADPL reached a consensus.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said a merger of the two groups would result in benefits for both parties.

'The ADPL's stronghold in Sham Shui Po is facing intense competition from pro-Beijing groups, while the Democratic Party's influence in Kowloon West has been shrinking in recent years,' he said. 'The two groups will complement each other after the merger.'

The Democratic Party has eight lawmakers and 52 councillors.

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