Legislative Council elections 2016

NeoDemocrats in crisis: three members quit over campaigning for non-party Legco candidate

The district councillors apologise in joint letter, explaining they thought former mentor Andrew Cheng Kar-foo needed help

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 8:35am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 12:15pm

The NeoDemocrats are facing a deepening crisis after three of its district councillors quit the party late Monday with an apology for campaigning on behalf of an independent Legislative Council candidate without consent.

Their words came hours after Gary Fan Kwok-wai, the NeoDemocrats’ only lawmaker in Legco, resigned from the party’s executive committee. Fan lost his bid to retain a seat in the New Territories East geographical constituency.

Yau Man-chun, Billy Chan Shiu-yeung and Sunny Chiu Chu-pong, all Sha Tin district councillors, admitted in a letter to the NeoDemocrats’ executive committee that their actions had disappointed others and that they would accept public criticism.

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“We have decided to leave NeoDemocrats from today to avoid causing inconveniences to it and to shoulder responsibility of campaigning for [Andrew] Cheng [Kar-foo].”

The trio was seen rallying for Cheng in Sha Tin without the party’s consent on election day Sunday.

Cheng and Fan were formerly colleagues in the Democratic Party, which Fan quit in 2010 soon after he co-founded the NeoDemocrats with a reformist faction of the Democratic Party. Cheng also quit the Democratic Party that year; he became unaffiliated.

Cheng decided not to run in the 2012 Legco elections, but Fan did, for the first time. Cheng backed Fan, building on Cheng’s public support in New Territories East. He won a seat in the constituency.

Cheng and Fan were commonly regarded as a mentor and a protégé until Cheng decided in July this year to seek election in Legco. Fan expressed surprise over Cheng’s decision and said he did not understand it, contending it disrupted the NeoDemocrats’ election chances.

Both men failed to win on Sunday, and the other three NeoDemocrats who ran for Legco also lost.

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In their letter on Monday, the Sha Tin district councillors said they had rallied for Cheng because of their friendship with him over the years, referring to the “important support” he gave in their district council races last year as well as his partnership over the past four years as they served Sha Tin.

“We were confident about Fan’s prospects for election by that time [September 4] while worrying about Cheng,” the letter stated. “We hoped to see Fan firmly grabbing a seat, with Cheng taking one more seat at the same time.”

The matter is to be discussed at the NeoDemocrats’ executive committee meeting on Tuesday.