Democrats suspend unionist Lau over dual membership

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 May, 1999, 12:00am

The Democratic Party has suspended Lau Chin-shek over his dual membership.

He will not be reinstated until he leaves The Frontier, a disciplinary committee said.

Mr Lau, who did not attend the disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, said he felt 'helpless' but would respect the committee's decision.

He said he would not file an appeal nor would he quit The Frontier.

Mr Lau said: 'The democratic camp is facing its toughest period as Tung Chee-hwa has been stifling democracy since he took office. He disbanded the municipal councils, resumed the appointments system and is now damaging the rule of law on the right of abode issue.

'It's time the democratic camp knitted together instead of dragging on with trivial matters.' Suspension of membership is the second-most serious penalty, behind expulsion.

Mr Lau said he understood he would be barred from party meetings and his voting rights were withdrawn, but he was unsure if he had to continue to pay membership fees.

He said he would fight under the banner of the Confederation of Trade Unions if he ran in elections.

Party whip Szeto Wah said: 'We have sent a clear message we will not allow the matter to drag on any more.' Fellow colleague Cheung Man-kwong said he hoped Mr Lau would quit The Frontier and rejoin the party as soon as possible.

'The unity of the democratic camp does not rely on the dual membership of a certain member but a shared commitment and views towards democracy and social issues,' he said.

He said the party would not sacrifice discipline because a member was a heavyweight political figure.

'We won't be so practical. The disciplinary standard won't vary with one's influence and competency.' Secretary-general Law Chi-kwong said the verdict would give more flexibility to Mr Lau, because he need not apply for an exemption when departing from the party line during Legco votes.