Re-elected Democratic Party head Emily Lau calls for party to focus on younger Hong Kong generation

Democratic Party chairwoman beats three rivals, including second-generation lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 December, 2014, 3:35am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 December, 2014, 7:40am

The Democratic Party needs change to win the support of more young people in the post-Occupy era, Emily Lau Wai-hing said after she was re-elected as party head yesterday.

It was the fiercest leadership election in the party's 20-year history, with four members contesting the top post, including a 27-year-old.

The veteran Lau beat fellow lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, who's considered to be a second-generation party member, by a tighter margin than expected. The second-round vote was 171 to 145.

Speaking to the media after the biennial election, Lau said she noted that the Democrats were very concerned about waning support among young people.

"So many young people are being drawn into the 'umbrella movement'. We are very eager to engage and work with them," Lau said.

She said the party's central committee would work on strategies to engage young people, such as through university student unions. The party would also make more use of social media "so we can tune in with the younger generation".

Lau added that the party would propose policies regarded by Hongkongers as reflecting their interests in the face of what she called mainland economic and political dominance.

There had to be a second round of voting because Lau received just 158 votes in the first round. She needed to receive more than half of the 316 votes to be elected. She was followed by Wu with 104 votes, 27-year-old Au Nok-hin with 33 and Stanley Ng Wing-fai with 21. The total party membership is about 700.

Lau said that although the party had mobilised a lot of members to support the Occupy movement, they were "standing behind" student leaders and the three main Occupy organisers, so people were not aware of their contribution.

Wu said he felt "encouraged" by the results, even though he lost.

"I believe the results show that there is a growing voice in our party for change. The Democratic Party has to find a new position for itself in the postOccupy era," Wu said.

He said the party should focus on "ploughing deeply" in the community by lobbying for support for the democratic camp, especially in next year's district council elections.

Lo Kin-hei, 30, re-elected as one of the vice-chairmen, said some members urged party leaders to toughen their stance towards Beijing in the face of the influx of mainland capital and tourists.

The party also elected its 30-member central committee yesterday. Ricky Or Yiu-lam, an active volunteer in the Occupy protest, won the most votes.