Hong Kong largest pro-democracy party has said they will decide whether to remain on in an “interim” legislative term after conducting opinion polls and debate.
The Democratic Party told the press on Thursday that they decided to reverse an earlier decision to remain on in the legislature after September’s elections were postponed for a year. Beijing passed an unanimous decision last Tuesday to allow incumbent legislators to continue their roles until the next election.
The seven Democratic Party incumbent lawmakers include their party chair Wu Chi-wai, the city’s longest-standing lawmaker James To, as well as Ted Hui, Roy Kwong, Andrew Wan, Helena Wong and Lam Cheuk-ting.
On Monday, the pro-democracy camp pledged to stay on in the Legislative Council, aside from Ray Chan and Eddie Chu who clearly stated their wish to leave.
But three days later, Wu said at the press conference that the party was aware of the divide in public opinion. The seven lawmakers would abide by the conclusion after conducting a scientific opinion poll which will be coordinated by a credible organisation commissioned by the party. Also, at least one debate will be held in order to offer a platform for politicians to express their different views.
Lam – another lawmaker from the party – said there was no room for further divisions within the democratic camp and that it is important to engage Hongkongers in the decision-making. “The debate has created a split in our hard-earned solidarity. We did not wish the split to be severe. We emphasise that we must stand together firmer than ever to resist the Chinese Communist Party’s autocratic oppression against Hongkongers.”
He added that, if the general public does not back their decision to remain, they will not be able to perform their duty well as lawmakers.
Later on Thursday, Civic Party lawmakers Alvin Yeung and Jeremy Tam told the press that they will abide by any decision made following the opinion poll results. Yeung – the party leader – said that their members had discussed the matter thoroughly in recent days. He said he weighed in the fact that he was barred from the now-postponed legislative elections in September but allowed to remain on in the interim: “Lawmakers who were disqualified from the elections get to remain in the chamber to annoy [the authorities] is in itself a purpose,” adding that he understood public doubts about the limitations of the legislature.
Yeung, Kwok Ka-Ki and Dennis Kwok from the party – together with Kenneth Leung representing the accountancy sector – are the four incumbent lawmakers barred from the now-postponed race.