New Hong Kong political party Third Side prepares to test its moderate stance in Legco elections
Ex-Democrats behind Third Side say they will talk to anyone, including Beijing officials, and are open to members taking jobs in government
Leaders of a new middle-of-the-road political party offering an alternative to weary voters aim to test their "moderate approach" in next year's Legislative Council elections.
Third Side is headed by two founding members of the Democratic Party, former lawmakers Tik Chi-yuen and Nelson Wong Sing-chi, who are widely seen as moderate pan-democrats.
Wong was expelled by the Democrats in July for urging legislators to accept conditionally a Beijing-decreed political reform package for the 2017 chief executive election.
Tik quit this month to show his discontent with the party's reluctance to accept dissident voices.
Others on the party's 20-member preparatory committee include former Democrats Chan Ka-wai and Chow Yick-hay, and businessman Shih Wing-ching, who is also from Path of Democracy, the think tank set up by fellow moderate and former Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah. He stressed yesterday he had not yet decided whether he would join Third Side.
Wong, vice-convenor of Third Side's preparatory committee, said: "As a middle-of-the-road political party, we welcome dialogue with whoever is willing to talk, be they the Beijing authorities, the pan-democrats, or the pro-establishment people."
He also said they would have no problem accepting government appointments.
"That is a way we can influence governance," said Wong.
His former party has said its members would not accept appointments under the Leung Chun-ying administration. Former Democrat Andrew Fung Wai-kwong was forced to quit the party after he was found to have applied for undersecretary roles within the government.
Tik, convenor of the preparatory committee, said: "Being a middle-of-the-road party is not easy. The pan-democrats will say you are pro-establishment and the pro-establishment will say you are of the opposition camp."
The party is expected to be formally launched on January 7. Tik said they aimed to raise HK$3 million for the first year of operation. Some HK$800,000 has been raised so far.
Tik declined to give names but said they had received donations from friends in various sectors. "So long as the donations are not conditional, or they are not from groups whose aims we do not support - say, cigarette companies or gambling businesses - we will not refuse any donations."
On the district council elections in November, Wong said it was unlikely a candidate could be fielded under the banner of Third Side. But he would not rule out the possibility of its members running in the elections highlighting their background with the group.
"We will actively consider sending people to run in the Legislative Council elections next year, or the coming Legislative Council by-election," said Wong, referring to the by-election to fill the vacancy left by Tong, who said he would quit in October.