New 'Labour Party' to balance 'right-wing' Democratic Party
Fanny W. Y. Fung
Another political party is in the making.
As if Hong Kong does not have enough parties and splinter groups of late, a group of old-time unionists and social democrats are setting up what they are preliminarily calling the 'Labour Party'.
The founders are no strangers to the public. One is former welfare sector lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who quit the Civic Party in October.
Four serving lawmakers are also involved in the new party - Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, Peter Cheung Kwok-che of the Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union, and Cyd Ho Sau-lan of the Civic Act-up.
The group aims to launch the party in summer and, with four seats on the Legislative Council, it would instantly become a powerful political force.
It is not planning to contest November's District Council poll but is targeting seats in next year's Legco elections.
Commenting on the party's political orientation, Cheung said: 'Positioned at the left-wing, we hope to balance society. Hong Kong is extremely right-wing.
'The electricity and gas we use are all privatised or monopolised. People keep talking about a small government and a big market. But we think the government should take a bigger role.
'We are very different from others in the pan-democratic camp. For example, the Democratic Party initially opposed a minimum wage. It also supported the listing of Link Reit. It is very right wing.
'The Civic Party does not advocate wealth redistribution either, nor does it object to privatisation.
'Other parties may not have clear economic ideologies. The League of Social Democrats has the clearest one.
'We share their philosophy but may not agree with their ways of working. Very often the league's actions override its beliefs.'
Cheung, a university lecturer, said the group was exploring the possibility of having the 160,000-strong Confederation of Trade Unions, the second largest labour union in the city, as a corporate member.
'It will be like the relationship of labour unions with the Labour Party in the UK,' he said.
Lee said he had already opened discussions on the plan with the CTU, adding: 'It is common for foreign labour parties to have member unions, for electioneering and fund-raising purposes.'
Cheung said the Labour Party would side with the pan-democrats who opposed the government's constitutional reform proposal last year. He added that it would not rule out a dialogue with Beijing, but it was not a priority.
The Federation of Trade Unions had explored the possibility of using the labour party name in the past. Chan Yuen-han, vice-president, said the political party had decided against it. 'The name is unimportant.'
She said she was not afraid of competition from the future pan-democrat labour party and its legislators.
'I haven't thought of this,' she said. 'In fact we have co-operated with them on labour issues in the past.'
We hope to balance society. Hong Kong is extremely right-wing.