Civic Party co-founder Ronny Tong Ka-wah has told RTHK that leaving the party was his “biggest failure” in all his years in politics. Tong announced in June that he was resigning as a legislative councillor and withdrawing his Civic Party membership.

Tong, confirming his resignation, said that he did not regret forming the party years ago, telling members to set their sights on the whole of society and not just individual groups.

He also said that he will not be forming any new political parties and that he remained good friends with Civic Party leaders Alan Leong Kah-kit and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee. Tong urged the party to stay true to its political ideology and to be consistent in its behaviour, both in discussions behind closed doors and in public.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah in an interview with RTHK. Photo: RTHK.

Commenting on a recent meeting between members of the Democratic Party and a Beijing official, which triggered a backlash within the party last week, he said: “I think this development is a breakthrough…in the 18 years that have gone by since the handover, Beijing has never been willing to meet with individual pan-democrats in private. I don’t think the meeting should be viewed in a negative or conspiratorial way. I hope this meeting is just the beginning. [It has been said that] pan-democrats are divided into the radical and the moderate – this divide isn’t something that people just made up. If you want to break the ice, you would also start with the softer spots.”

He also said that former Secretary for Justice and founding member of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong Elsie Leung Oi-sie is not an ambitious person and is a pro-establishment politician who has earned the trust of pan-democrats. Therefore, it would be natural that she would act as the middleman. The meeting between the Democratic Party and Beijing had been set up by Leung, who said that both sides had intentions of understanding each other better.

Tong declined to comment on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying that it will be difficult for Leung to change Hongkonger’s perceptions of him.

Ronny Tong and Andrew Leung in 2013. Photo: GovHK.

Tong’s resignation as a legislative councillor will take effect on October 1. Tong is the convener of new think tank “Path of Democracy”, which according to him, was established “to seek a third path for Hong Kong between giving up on universal suffrage and full scale resistance, in order to promote dialogue and democracy”.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.