'Long Hair's' aborting of trip to Shanghai lays bare pan-democrat divide

Radical's decision to quit Legco trip to Shanghai lays bare rift in camp

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 7:35am

"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung's decision to abort his trip to Shanghai laid bare a rift in the pan-democratic camp.

Nowhere is the split more apparent than in the Civic Party. Its leader, Alan Leong Kah-kit, called off plans to join the trip over what he called the "unacceptable" treatment of Leung, who returned to Hong Kong on Friday on being told by immigration officials that he would have to surrender materials banned on the mainland in order to enter.

But Leong's party colleague, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, took part in most scheduled visits yesterday along with Beijing loyalists.

Two other Civic Party lawmakers, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok, skipped official events and gave out fliers on reform for the 2017 chief executive election - the key topic of the visit - to Hongkongers in the city.

Dennis Kwok said Tong had disappointed him: "After all, we all want to do the thing well. It would be better if there's more team spirit."

Labour Party lawmakers Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Peter Cheung Kwok-che also returned to Hong Kong in sympathy with Leung.

Leung, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, flew back to Hong Kong after insisting he keep items related to the June 4 crackdown, including leaflets and a banned book on the Communist Party. Leung has long been barred from the mainland, but was invited to join the trip along with all other lawmakers.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, president of the Legislative Council, who is leading the delegation, said it was a pity Leong withdrew.

The withdrawals mean only 10 pan-democrats, along with 42 others, will meet Wang Guangya, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei and liaison office chief Zhang Xiaoming for talks today on reform.

Tong, who has been at odds with other pan-democrats after putting forward a reform plan for 2017 that would not allow the public to nominate candidates for chief executive, said he was not in Shanghai to make a political statement.

"I will stay until the last minute … This would be my decision even if my party colleagues shared a different view," he said. He ruled out quitting the party.

Leong questioned whether the central government was willing to accommodate differences.

"Leung's is a dissenting voice, and our call for public nomination is as much a dissenting voice," he said. "If there's a lack of sincerity, there wouldn't be much meaning in the meeting."

Other pan-democrats - including Democrats Sin Chung-kai and Helena Wong Pik-wan - stayed but snubbed most visits. Wong said she would raise the Leung case with officials.