A district councillor has announced he is quitting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Civic Party – four of whose members have been charged under the national security law – because of uncertainty surrounding its future.

Stanley Lui, who represents the Fo Tan constituency of Sha Tin district council, announced his decision on Facebook on Thursday.

Stanley Lui
Stanley Lui. File photo: Stanley Lui, via Facebook.

Lui told HKFP that he resigned due to the party’s unclear direction and his desire for more flexibility when handling district work.

“Several former party members are still handling their own legal issues, and the party itself is still discussing its future path. I can’t see a concrete direction that the party’s heading,” said Lui.

Four former members of the Civic Party are among 47 democrats charged under the Beijing imposed national security law after taking part in a primary election last year to choose opposition candidates for the now-postponed Legislative Council election. They are accused of conspiracy to commit subversion.

The law provides for penalties of up to life imprisonment.

In an open letter made public in April, the four urged the Civic Party to disband, saying it “has completed its historical mission.” They urged fellow members to avoid “falling into an abyss.”

Lui said he handed in his resignation in late April, and thanked the party for giving him an opportunity to sit down and discuss his decision.

He said his move was not related to the oath-taking requirement bill, which will get its second reading in the legislative council next week, and he had not yet decided whether to take the oath.

Under the proposed bill, district councillors will have to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong government and promise to uphold the Basic Law. At least three pro-democracy district councillors have quit for refusing to comply.

count district council election box november 11 (16) vote voting ballot polling poll
File Photo: May James/HKFP.

The pro-democracy camp won 388 out of 479 seats in the 2019 District Council elections in a major blow to the pro-Beijing camp, and currently control 17 of the 18 councils. China has since imposed electoral changes to eliminate the role which the councils previously played in helping choose the city’s leader.

‘Painful move’

In another development a former district councillor who was disqualified by a Hong Kong court announced on Monday he has left the city but did not disclose his location.

Timothy Lee, a former Kowloon City district councillor who gave up his seat after losing a legal challenge in April, said he decided to leave Hong Kong in the face of a “continuous political and legal purge.”

“Leaving the home that gave birth to me and nurtured me is a painful and reluctant move,” his Facebook post read. “Knowing that I have failed the citizens’ wishes, I feel extremely sorry.”

Lee said he would “train to be a better and stronger person, to serve Hong Kong when the opportunity arises.”

High Court judge Keith Yeung ruled on March 25 that Lee had been improperly elected after his opponent Lam Pok filed an appeal against the election results.

Lee was accused of printing and distributing election promotional materials which claimed that he had the support of International Relations scholar Simon Shen and former legislator Lau Siu-lai, before obtaining written permission.

The former district councillor lost his seat after deciding not to appeal against the ruling.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.