Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah sent a private message to party members Monday morning announcing his decision to withdraw from the party he co-founded in 2006, lamenting that “the high hopes and pride” he once felt for the party are “no longer present today”.
According to Apple Daily, Tong said that he had hoped the Civic Party could strengthen the democracy movement by engaging politically unaligned Hong Kongers, and also become the first party in the pan-democratic camp to build a positive relationship with the Central People’s Government.
“This does not mean that we have to submit to the central government, but we can fight for the political room for democracy on the basis of staunch support for ‘one country, two systems’… Today’s reality, however, proves that both the party and the ideals I founded it with have deviated too far.”
Discord within the Civic Party has been reported since early this year. In a March 21 Facebook post, fellow Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo notably proclaimed that “Ronny Tong and I are no comrades-in-arms on the HK democracy fight front.”
Tong founded the moderate think-tank Path of Democracy last week, which aims to pave a third way for democracy in Hong Kong by promoting dialogue and centrist political ideas.
Established in 2006, the Civic Party’s 100 founding members included sitting legislators Alan Leong Ka-kit, Ronny Tong ka-wah and chairperson Audrey Eu Yuet-mee. The party was preceded by the Article 45 Concern Group, formed by legal practitioners and academics in 2003 to push for universal suffrage as promised in the eponymous Article 45 of the territory’s Basic Law.