The chairman of a new moderate policy group has denied trying to split the Democratic Party. The 60-member Synergynet group includes about 30 Democratic Party legislators and district councillors. The policy group, launched yesterday, said its aim was to create a new vision for Hong Kong amid the economic downturn and criticism of the SAR's political system. Democratic Party member and City University professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is the group's chairman. Professor Cheung, a former party vice-chairman, said governance had been deteriorating because the Tung administration lacked a mandate. There had been no sense of vision for Hong Kong since the handover, and social conflicts had also become more acute as the gap between rich and poor widened due to the downturn, he added. He said that he hoped the group could offer solutions for the community as well as the Government. 'We have to think out of the box, be brave enough to challenge existing rules and recreate Hong Kong's future,' he said. Comprising professionals, academics and management experts, the group has established research groups on governance, education, health and other policy areas. Professor Cheung hoped policy papers could be released in six months. The Democratic Party, formed by the merger of the United Democrats and Meeting Point, a moderate political group led by Professor Cheung in 1994, has been plagued by factional disputes. The party was dealt a heavy blow after the so-called Young Turks faction, who prefer a more radical approach to politics, threatened to withdraw. Professor Cheung denied that he was trying to split the party, although most ex-Meeting Point members, such as Fred Li Wah-ming, Wong Shing-chi and Tik Chi-yuen, have joined the new group. He stressed the group had no intention of running for political office, in accordance with the Democrats' rule against dual party membership. 'We can maintain pro-active relations with the Democrats. We would not affect any [other] parties,' he said. But political scientist Dr Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, said he believed that the group would undermine the Democrats. 'It shows that the party is splitting because policy and personal disputes cannot be resolved,' he said. However, he conceded that the move might benefit the Democrats by broadening its expertise in different sectors.