Claudia Mo warns of 'Big Brother culture' in Civic Party

Maverick legislator reveals her surprise at ex-chairman Kenneth Chan's public proposal for Sichuan aid before the party discussed it

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 May, 2013, 5:45am

Maverick lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching of the Civic Party has warned of a "Big Brother culture" in the party leadership, after a rift surfaced with a former chairman over the government's Sichuan earthquake relief donation.

Mo said she felt "disheartened" about inadequate communication within the party.

She also voiced dismay that not enough new blood was rising to the top echelon of the seven-year-old pro-democracy group.

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Mo revealed that she considered quitting the party two years ago, when former secretary general Joseph Cheng Yu-shek lost to Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, now a lawmaker, in an "unfair" race for Civic chairmanship.

But she had no plan to leave the party now, she said.

On Friday, the Legislative Council endorsed the government's quake relief proposal that pan-democrats had tried to block, citing fear of corruption on the mainland. Mo said she was "taken aback" when Chan publicised his plan to table a motion asking the government to donate the funds to charities instead, without first putting the idea to a party meeting.

"Maybe we can do better in internal communication."

Mo emphasised that her relationship with her five party colleagues in the legislature was "OK" and she was happy that it was now a more diversified team of lawmakers.

Before the Legco election last summer, the Civic Party had five lawmakers who were all barristers, but now they have an academic, a doctor and three barristers, including party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit. Mo is a journalist.

"On the whole we are doing fine," she said, "except perhaps … lawyers, barristers seem to give this general perception that they're here as your defence counsel, that they speak on your behalf; you, as the defendant, don't need to talk."

She said this perception was "very unfortunate".

Mo said Leong and Civic chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee should stay alert about the party's image, as well as the danger of an unintended "Big Brother culture" on which she did not elaborate.

"The party has successfully stuck to its founding principles, [but] to my dismay, things have not changed too much in the leadership. We really need more new blood coming in."

She was "almost jealous" to see 28-year-old Lo Kin-hei elected as Democratic Party vice-chairman in December, while young Civic members remained on the executive committee.

Asked if she had considered quitting the party of which she was a founding member, Mo said: "Yes [but] I am determined to soldier on … If I love the party, I'll make it better, and I'm not necessarily right all the time."