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Carrie Lam

Hong Kong pro-democracy party defends acceptance of donation from city leader Carrie Lam

Lam last week became the first chief executive to give to a pro-democracy party, leading to criticism of the Democratic Party for taking the money from someone they are supposed to hold to account

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 8:59pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 10:48pm

Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party on Sunday rejected criticism that it was mingling too closely with the government when it accepted a donation from the city’s leader at a fundraiser.

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said the party would continue to “staunchly” criticise the government, despite many seeing the donation by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as an attempt to smooth relations between the sides.

Lam made history last week by becoming the first chief executive to openly donate to any pro-democracy party, as she gave HK$30,000 to the Democrats in a personal capacity.

She later uploaded to her Instagram account a photo of her toasting alongside Wu in a cheerful mood, with the hashtag “major reconciliation”.

Wu insisted there was nothing wrong with taking the money.

“It was a Democratic Party fundraiser. Of course we would welcome our guests to make donations and support our work,” he told a televised forum on Sunday.

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The veteran politician insisted the party would remain transparent about use of its funds.

“We have been neck and neck with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong in terms of community outreach programmes – they are all on record. It is not an easy task,” Wu said. The pro-Beijing DAB is the largest political party in Hong Kong.

But Wu’s comments did not convince Christopher Lau Gar-hung from People Power, a radical pro-democracy party.

“I simply could not see the relation between raising funds and inviting Lam,” Lau told Wu at the forum.

Wu said a responsible party should have dialogue with the government.

“Even though we have differences, we should try to close the gap as much as possible and serve Hongkongers,” Wu said. “But we will continue to staunchly criticise the government if necessary.”

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Engineering sector lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, who chairs the Legislative Council’s public works subcommittee, said there was a long way to go before any reconciliation effort could yield results.

He said out of HK$130 billion of government funding requests the subcommittee had approved during the current legislative term, only HK$20 billion passed the subsequent Finance Committee, with the rest held up by pan-democratic lawmakers.

“We are still HK$110 billion short of the target. Why? Lam must bring all sides to the table to work out a pragmatic solution.”

The efficiency of the Finance Committee is seen by many as an indicator of ties between the opposition camp and the administration, as pan-democrat members often deploy filibustering tactics to delay projects which they have reservations about.