Democratic Party chair Wu Chi-wai has said a HK$30,000 donation from Chief Executive Carrie Lam will not change his party’s stance and lead to a reconciliation between the pro-democracy camp and the pro-establishment camp.

Lam attended the party’s 23rd anniversary dinner on Tuesday and made a donation after the party’s former lawmaker Fred Li sang a song onstage. After the event, Lam’s Instagram account posted a photo of the event with the hashtags “Democratic Party” and “the great reconciliation.”

The Democratic Party met with criticism on social media for accepting the money.

Wu Chi-wai. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Responding to the criticism, lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said on Wednesday: “Of course it won’t affect our stance. It is an unconditional donation.”

“Whether the government can reconcile with society is not only about one party,” he said. “If she can reconcile with society, then political parties will naturally respond.”

“The government has to admit that it has failures in governance. It also has to think about whether it should continue its practise of forcefully passing laws.”

For instance, Wu said Lam did not accept the party’s suggestion to conduct a white paper consultation for the national anthem law.

Carrie Lam at the Democratic Party anniversary dinner. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

A white paper consultation would invite the public to comment on the details of the law, instead of the current document given to the legislature, which only gives the outline of the law.

“I don’t see that she intends to fix the split in society,” he said. “Society does not trust the government. With her experience, she should know that a consultation is a way to resolve the controversy.”

“Maybe you have the support of the pro-Beijing camp, but there is still a huge amount of discontentment in society.”

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip, who is also a member of the government’s Executive Council, said the donation may shed a negative light on both Lam and the Democratic Party.

Regina Ip. Photo: In-Media.

“It looks like buying votes. It is also not good for the Democratic Party – I heard netizens making fun of the party, saying it can be bought for HK$30,000,” she said.

Ip said she has also donated to other parties at their anniversaries, but only small amounts such as HK$2,000.

She said Lam’s contribution may create a difficult situation for her: “How do you decline if a lot of people ask you for donations? Do you have to donate your whole salary? I don’t know how she will handle it.”

Ip said the pro-Beijing camp laughed at the incident: “We all said: ‘how much are we worth’?… The DAB party made a breakthrough [in the by-election] – how much is Vincent Cheng worth?”

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.