Albert Ho quits as Democratic Party chairman over 'serious failure'

Chairman Albert Ho quits in the face of lost seats and slashed votes, to leave the party faithful with a lot of soul-searching ahead

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 2:09pm

The Democratic Party suffered one of its biggest defeats, retaining only six seats in the legislature - the fewest since the party was founded 18 years ago.

Albert Ho Chun-yan stepped down as chairman after admitting a "serious failure" in the campaign.

Four years ago the Democrats won eight seats: seven out of 30 geographical constituencies plus one functional constituency.

On Sunday they dropped two seats, winning four of 35 geographical constituencies plus two so-called super seats, won by Ho and James To Kun-sun in the functional constituency for district councils.

In New Territories West, the seats won by Ho and party colleague Lee Wing-tat four years ago were both lost. Lee attracted only 33,000 votes - 13,000 less than four years ago. Josephine Chan Shu-ying got 25,892 votes but failed to retain the remaining seat in the constituency.

The Democrats dropped a total of 34,000 votes in the constituency, but the situation was even worse in New Territories East, where they lost over 51,000 votes compared with four years ago. Incumbent legislator Wong Sing-chi lost his seat after securing only 21,118 votes - less than half his total in 2008. Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheung was also soundly beaten, winning only 2 per cent of the vote.

Helena Wong Pik-wan, Wu Chi-wai and Sin Chung-kai retained the party's seats in Kowloon West, Kowloon East and Hong Kong Island respectively. But altogether, the Democrats won only 247,000 votes in the five geographical constituencies - almost 100,000, or 30 per cent, less than in 2008.

After the results came in, the Democratic Party held a meeting near the polling station at AsiaWorld-Expo, and Ho stepped down as chairman. He bowed and expressed his "most sincere apology".

He said he did not think the party paid the price for negotiating with the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong and supporting the government's 2010 electoral package.

"I still believe the reform package we passed in 2010 served the interests of Hong Kong, and has the support of the general public," he said. "But in recent months, the public has been impatient with the current administration, and maybe some of them preferred to choose people who are much more aggressive in their stance and role. That might have caused us to lose votes."

Democratic Party members will meet soon to review the results and consider the party's future direction.

The Civic Party won the most votes of any pan-democratic party, but Ho refused to say whether he felt that contributed to the Democrats' defeats.

"I don't want to criticise our allies, because in an election every party has their choice and can only make their best effort to win," he said.

Vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing will be acting chairwoman until the party chooses a new leader at the end of the year.

Ho said: "We need to rejuvenate the party's image and to be more lively when we express our ideas. Our leadership right now still believes firmly that being rational and practical is the right direction forward."