Emily Lau reflects on ‘glorious days’ in Hong Kong legislature, but rules out standing for chief executive in a ‘fake election’

Veteran lawmaker says biggest regret of political career was not seeing democracy materialise in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 January, 2016, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 January, 2016, 5:22pm

Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing has vowed to continue playing an active role in Hong Kong civil society after she steps down from the legislature in September, but insists she has no interest in running for chief executive while the election process “remains undemocratic”.

Ruling out seeking an eighth term in the election this year, Lau, 63, said it was time for her to pass on the torch after serving the Legislative Council for 25 years.

“I am very honoured to have had the opportunity to serve the Hong Kong people in this historic period – be it the colonial days, the transition period or now after the change of sovereignty – it has been … my ‘glorious days’,” she said, referencing a signature Cantonese song by pop band Beyond, who also provided the unofficial theme song of the Occupy movement.

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The former journalist, who first got elected in 1991, said she would contribute to the city and the country after retirement by advocating universal suffrage, human rights and rule of law.

“Even though I [am banned from] the mainland, I can still make a contribution to the country … by fighting for a democratic Hong Kong,” said Lau, whose home-return permit was invalidated by the authorities across the border years ago.

But Lau ruled out taking things further by contesting the chief executive race, as the lawmaker said she neither the ability to form a cabinet nor the interests to participate in a “fake election”.

Lau said her biggest regret in her political career was not witnessing democracy materialise and the rifts among different parties which made the once effective legislature dysfunctional.

The “eight-party coalition” once achieved in Legco in the early 2000s, she said, had successfully forced the government to incorporate the suggestions agreed by parties across the spectrum.

“If we want to advocate something in the legislature, we need consensus and a majority of votes,” she said. “But someone doesn’t want the parties to get together now.”

A growing number of young people were dissatisfied with Lau’s style in recent years, regarding her as too moderate. Lau yesterday admitted there could be a generation gap but emphasised she had always spent a considerable amount of time interact with the young.

“It is impossible to have 100 per cent of the people satisfied with me,” she said. “I would listen to opinions from different sides ... but that doesn’t mean I would agree with everything they say.”

The Democratic Party will finalise its final list of candidates for the Legco elections in April, after holding rounds of primary debates and studying the results of public opinion polls.