Democratic Party's deputy leader Sin Chung-kai vies to lead it

Sin Chung-kai has formed leadership team for contest, source says, but is criticised as being too conservative to change the party's image

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 4:10am

The deputy head of the Democratic Party is preparing to challenge for the leadership in an election a week tomorrow.

Sin Chung-Kai, lawmaker for the Hong Kong Island constituency, has set up a "cabinet" with party members Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong and Lo Kin-hei, a Southern district councillor, to contest the seats of chairman and vice-chairmen, a source close to the team said.

Sin would say only he was "vigorously considering standing for chairman, co-ordinating with other party members and organising my cabinet".

The party is currently led by acting chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing after Albert Ho Chun-yan stepped down to take responsibility for the Democrats' poor showing in the Legislative Council election in September.

It will hold its central committee election, held once every two years, on December 16.

But a political analyst criticised Sin's candidacy, saying he was too conservative and would not be able to change the party's image to appeal to voters.

Ma Ngok, associate professor at Chinese University's department of government and public administration, said the party had been hindered by stagnant thinking. He said: "The Democratic Party has been distant from civil society, with low visibility in social movement and political discourse on environmental policies and livelihood issues." Ma said the possibility for change would be low if Sin took charge, adding: "He is not seen as a reformer who can rejuvenate the party's image."

Ma also said Sin's candidacy was a sign that the party had little confidence in younger members to take charge.

Kowloon East lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, who decided not to compete for the top post, said there was a problem of fielding capable candidates due to the lack of a succession plan.

"It appears that the party has no succession plan to groom the second or third generations to be the future leaders," Wu said.

Sin's leadership team had pledged to map out a clear direction and rebuild the party image, the source said.

They intended to change the party's internal structure and strengthen its work at the district level.

The source said: "Facing a series of challenges, the cabinet will need a rethink on several issues, such as how to [work with residents to] resist the 'red tide' - as Hong Kong is gradually 'dyed red' [by the mainland] - work with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration and create a clear ideological choice."

The source added: "The party is always criticised for talking in a leftist way, but acting rightist."