The new chairman of the Democratic Party yesterday pledged to improve links between the leadership and grassroots members as a way of rebuilding unity in the party. Yeung Sum, who succeeds Martin Lee Chu-ming, also called for better communication with the government and Beijing. Speaking after the poll, where he received 121 votes from the 136 members who took part, Dr Yeung promised to revive the party after a number of defections of radical members. 'In the past there have been lots of internal struggles. We need to build a higher sense of consensus among us, and promoting this sense of unity is my foremost task,' he said. Positioning the party as a 'pro-active opposition party' in the legislature, Dr Yeung called for dialogue with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and Beijing, who have both in the past been hostile towards the Democrats. He said while the party would continue to focus on issues such as democracy and the rule of law, livelihood and district issues would also top its new agenda. Albert Ho Chun-yan and Lee Wing-tat were elected as Dr Yeung's deputies. Martin Lee, 64, who has quit after 12 years at the helm, founded and led the United Democrats after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. He remained in charge when it was succeeded by the Democratic Party in 1994. He said that when the party was founded he had decided to state in its constitution that the chairman could not hold office for more than four two-year terms. 'I trust the system and not individuals,' he said. Dr Yeung, who teaches social work at the University of Hong Kong, was also an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movement in China but has now quit the post to avoid any conflict. A number of radical faction members are said to be at odds with Dr Yeung. In the past two years, dozens of 'Young Turks' have defected to The Frontier party. Among other disagreements, the radicals have accused party stalwarts of blocking rank-and-file members from running for Legco seats, instead favouring incumbents and those close to the party leadership. It is understood that another party lawmaker, Albert Chan Wai-yip, will resign, possibly today, in a protest against Dr Yeung. Martin Lee said the road ahead for the party would be 'difficult and the burden heavy', but added that he had confidence in Dr Yeung. The former chairman will remain a legislator and is expected to stay active in external affairs. The leadership reshuffle is seen by grassroots members and academics as beneficial. Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the University of Science and Technology, said the party's emphasis on livelihood issues would bring it closer to the people. Speaking at a farewell dinner for Martin Lee organised by the party, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Stephen Lam Sui-lung, said the government would 'build consensus while accepting differences' with the Democrats.