Friction deepens among battered pan-democrats
Friction between radicals and moderates in the pan-democratic camp is set to deepen in the wake of its disappointing showing in the district council polls.
The People Power group yesterday vowed to take its confrontational approach into next year's Legislative Council election.
One of the group's objectives is to challenge moderate pan-democrats - in particular the Democratic Party, which it wants to 'punish' for compromising with the government on electoral reforms. People Power put up candidates against moderate democrats in 45 seats in Sunday's district council elections.
The strategy had only a minor effect, with the defeat of only four Democratic Party runners attributable to the radicals' rivalry. But it split the vote and tarnished the public image of the pan-democratic camp in general, with political neutrals put off by their public bickering.
It also meant that the camp could not co-ordinate efforts as effectively as the pro-government side - which emerged as the biggest winner.
Wong Yuk-man, the People Power lawmaker who is the person behind the strategy, yesterday admitted that the group had failed to achieve its goal.
But he ruled out any possibility of reconciliation with the Democratic Party and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood. 'We failed to carry out our political message in the district election ... but our campaign against the two groups will go on in next September's Legco election,' said Wong. 'Co-operation [with the moderates] needs consensus and common beliefs. But there is no such basis among us.'
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit earlier called for a reorganisation of the camp. Wong's stance snuffed out any hope that the radicals and the moderates would unite in a common front. Both Democrats and the ADPL distanced themselves from People Power, saying 'there was nothing to be discussed [with it].'
People Power won only one of the 62 seats it contested. Across the board, the pan-democrats hold only 83 district seats now, down from 96. The pro-government Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong alone holds 136 seats.
Four Democratic Party candidates attributed their loss to People Power's campaign. In the Belcher constituency of the Central and Western District Council, Democratic candidate Victor Yeung Sui-yin lost to independent Malcolm Lam Wai-wing by 33 votes. People Power's William Wong Ka-lok got 201 votes. Had the two pan-democratic parties coordinated their efforts, Yeung would have kept his seat by a 168 margin.
Fifteen of the 62 People Power candidates failed to secure the minimum 5 per cent share of votes required to avoid losing their deposits.
Albert Chan Wai-yip, another lawmaker with the group, who lost to Democrat chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan in Tuen Mun, attributed the failure of their 'new democracy movement' to media smears. 'Voters could not receive our message and understand why we went after the Democrats and ADPL,' Chan said.
While pan-democrats suffered seatbacks, the NeoDemocrats - formed by disillusioned Democrats opposed to electoral reform - won 80 per cent of seats they contested. Founding member Gary Fan Kwok-wai said they would not contest five additional Legco seats for district councils, to be voted on by 3.3 million electors citywide - the biggest change last year's reforms ushered in. However, he said NeoDemocrats would help other pan-democrats secure nomination to contest them.