Au Nok-hin says Democratic Party needs more young blood
The Democratic Party needs more young blood to gain vital support from the city's youth, says a 27-year-old challenging for chairmanship of the party.
"The new generation has taken the lead in the 'umbrella movement'. If no one like me comes forward after all this, I'll feel we owe the next generation," said Au Nok-hin, explaining why he was running for the post, even though he has a slim chance of winning the vote on Sunday.
Au is a Southern District councillor and sits on the 700-strong executive committee of the party, which was set up two decades ago.
Au is also known for his membership of activist group Left 21, and has had a frontline role in the Occupy movement. He was part of the group that stormed "Civic Square", or the forecourt of the Admiralty government headquarters, on September 26, in the lead-up to the mass sit-ins. He has also addressed the crowds in Mong Kok some nights.
He said many Democrats had been involved in the movement as volunteers, though "few protesters may have been aware of that". "Our communication strategy has to improve. We have to make full use of the creative media to let more people know what we do and what we think."
It is Au's second challenge for the position and he faces a tough battle against incumbent Emily Lau Wai-hing, lawmaker Wu Chi-wai and the party's treasurer, Stanley Ng Wing-fai.
The youngest of the four, Au admitted he had no experience in negotiating with the government or Beijing on political reform.
"But this is the era of confrontation," Au said. "It's clear the government will not change its proposal for reform. The role of an opposition party is not to negotiate … it is to work with society in fighting for change."
Au, a politics student who has just submitted his master's thesis, did not believe the Democrats needed to take a more radical stance, but said the party should do more to uphold the interests and core values of Hongkongers at a time when Beijing was putting more emphasis on "one country" than "two systems".
And he believed the party should campaign harder and encourage more members to run in next year's district council elections.
Veteran Democrat Lee Wing-tat described Au as "one of the few progressive members". "His views may not be the mainstream, but his participation is vital and prevents the party from falling into inertia," Lee said.