Wu Chi-wai becomes new chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party

New chief pledges ‘all means and reasonable procedure’ to stop a second term for Leung Chun-ying, who he says has ‘torn the city apart’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 10:43pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 10:53pm

Lawmaker Wu Chi-wai was elected as the new chief of the Democratic Party on Sunday, becoming the first chairman of the city’s biggest pro-democracy party to hold a valid permit to enter the mainland.

But Wu, 54, pledged there would be no change in the party’s direction, vowing to wage war on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and exhaust all possible means to stop him winning a second term.

The veteran district councillor turned lawmaker was returned uncontested at the party’s annual general meeting, after former chair Emily Lau Wai-hing retired.

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“[The Democratic Party] and Leung are irreconcilable,” Wu said. “Leung has torn the city apart and Hongkongers have had enough.”

He said the party would unite Hongkongers and work with allies in the legislature to fight Leung, whose administration had recently launched a legal challenge to disqualify four more pro-democracy lawmakers.

“We will adopt all means and reasonable procedure to block Leung, the government and the pro-establishment camp from doing whatever they want,” he said, citing filibustering as one possible way.

Wu, who successfully applied for a home-return permit in 2003, said he did not oppose talking to the central government.

But he described Beijing’s recent decision to grant permanent home-return permits to all pan-democrats who previously failed to renew one “a mere gesture”.

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“[Beijing] should listen to Hongkongers’ voices and not allow Leung to be re-elected,” he said. “That could be the biggest olive branch and could effectively improve the city’s governance.”

He revealed he had visited the mainland with his family during summer and did not think his new post would put his safety at risk on future trips.

“But I would respect my wife’s views,” said Wu. “I would not go if it would make my wife worried.”

Former party chiefs, including founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming SC and Lee Wing-tat, all had their permits invalidated following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

Wu hinted he might not seek a second two-year term as party chairman, adding he would work closely with his cabinet to implement the party’s long-discussed and controversial structural reform.

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That would involve creating the post of party leader to lead the work in the Legislative Council so that the chairman could focus on the party’s internal affairs.

Meanwhile, young Democrat Lo Kin-hei, who has been the party’s vice-chairman for four years, was re-elected. Wilson Li Wing-shing, party secretary, will replace lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin as another vice-chairman.