Why Democratic Party had to suspend former lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2015, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2015, 3:56pm

Your editorial ("Dissent is part of democracy", May 24) criticised the Democratic Party (DP) central committee's decision to suspend the membership of Nelson Wong Sing-chi, a former DP legislative councillor and former DP central committee member, for breaking ranks with the party to launch a petition to back the government's political reform package, conditional on minor concessions.

You said it "ill becomes a group that preaches democracy and inclusiveness to turn on someone with dissenting views".

Being a member of the central committee, which exercises leadership over party affairs, Mr Wong seldom attended our meetings and rarely discussed this topic with us. Thus, when he made his views known in the news media, DP members were stunned because they were in sharp contrast to the decision of the central committee.

Some members of the public thought he was speaking on behalf of the DP and was trying to steer the party away from our position to oppose the government package.

Such confusion has done grave damage to the DP because the public expects political parties to have a clear and unambiguous position on important public policies, and cannot accept a member of the party leadership expressing views which are in sharp contrast to those of the party.

Mr Wong's comments have undermined public support and confidence in the DP.

Responding to members' concern, he resigned from the central committee on April 16. But that did not stop him from continuing with his campaign to support the government package.

When he announced a plan to launch a petition, Albert Ho Chun-yan, former DP chair, urged him not to do so. Albert told Mr Wong if he insisted, he would move a motion in the central committee meeting to suspend his membership. Mr Wong refused to listen, until shortly before the vote was taken on May 21.

Central committee members felt Mr Wong's action has done grave damage to the party and voted 21 to one to suspend his membership.

In so doing, we want to send a clear signal to the community that the DP will not support the government package because it does not give voters genuine choice.

Looking at the sequence of events, I don't see how any reasonable person can describe the action taken by the DP as "akin to the style of an authoritarian party".

Emily Lau, chairperson, Democratic Party