Pan-democrats must stand together as Beijing toughens its line on Hong Kong's fight for political reform, moderate members of the camp said yesterday.
Lawmakers from four parties came together to deliver the message a day after radical counterparts stormed an event at which members of the Democratic Party took an oath of support for the Occupy Central movement's civil disobedience plans.
About 30 protesters calling themselves "Supporters of Occupy Central" - including some members of the People Power group - clashed with about 40 Democrats in Statue Square, Central, on Wednesday. Occupy Central itself rejected any connection to the group.
Members of the Democratic, Civic and Labour parties, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and unaffiliated lawmakers issued a statement expressing support for Occupy Central and condemning the "malicious" attempt to disrupt Wednesday's event.
"We consider what the [Supporters of Occupy Central] did an attempt to obstruct Hong Kong people who were taking an oath and vowing to participate in Occupy Central," said a statement, in the name of 20 lawmakers.
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who was hit on the head with a clothes hanger amid the scuffles, said those who disrupted the event were "not the allies of the Democratic Party".
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit warned against any attempt to divide the pan-democratic camp as debate continues on arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election, due to be run under universal suffrage.
"In the face of Beijing's hardening insistence on screening of chief executive candidates, all we have is a need to unite, not the capacity to be divided," Leong said of the camp.
The ADPL's Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who prepared the statement, said he made no attempt to involve four radical lawmakers: People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man.
Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said the protest would give the impression the camp was divided.
Pan-democratic candidates have long won a majority of votes in Legislative Council elections but make up a minority of lawmakers, as Beijing loyalists dominate the functional seats. The camp can, however, block any attempt to reform the political system as it holds more than a third of Legco seats.
The Democratic Party had been criticised by radicals for agreeing to support a reform package ahead of the 2012 Legco election.
People Power member Tam Tak-chi, who followed and booed Democrats on Wednesday, said he would not comment on the statement as his group was planning a press conference today.