Emily Lau Wai-hing becomes Democratic Party's first chairwoman

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 4:15am

Veteran politician Emily Lau Wai-hing has become the Democratic Party's first chairwoman after defeating vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai by a narrow margin in an election yesterday.

Lau, acting chairwoman and a lawmaker for New Territories East, won 149 votes, deputy chairman Sin Chung-kai got 133 and Southern district councillor Au Nok-hin received 14.

Of the three candidates for the party's two vice-chairman posts, Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, with 189 votes, and Lo Kin-hei, with 173, beat Kowloon East lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, with 166.

Despite losing his bid for the vice-chairmanship, Wu won the most votes for a seat on the central committee - 260.

Party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting said 300 party members voted for a chairman, two deputy chairmen and 27 central committee members.

"The party would have a dialogue with the liaison office of the central people's government on the issue of the 2017 chief executive election and 2020 Legco election if the central government shows its sincerity on the proposal for universal suffrage," Lau said.

She said the new leadership would rejuvenate the party's image, garner more support and appeal to the young generation and women voters.

Tsoi said he would focus on internal party reforms and Lo would reach out to the younger generation via new media.

Political analyst Ma Ngok, an associate professor in the department of government and administration of Chinese University, expressed disappointment at the result and doubted the new leader could rejuvenate the party.

"Lau is a veteran politician who first ran in a direct election for the Legislative Council 20 years ago. She belongs to the first generation, like Sin. She has appeared to be quite distant from civil society in recent years. How can she rejuvenate the party? She won by a narrow margin. Neither she nor Sin is a popular leader," Ma said.

"The party only got six seats in the Legco election. The crux is how can the new leadership grab more seats in the next election."

Still, Ma believes the newly elected vice-chairmen could align with civil society, since Tsoi has been politically active and Lo is a member of the business community organisation Roundtable.

Lau has served as one of two party vice-chairmen since 2008, when she quit her group The Frontier.

She has been acting chairwoman of the party since Albert Ho Chun-yan resigned as chairman a day after the Legco election to take responsibility for its poor showing.