A Hong Kong pro-democracy politician charged under the national security law announced he has quit his party and left politics, the latest in a series of such moves by democrats awaiting trial following a crackdown.

The team of former lawmaker Gary Fan announced the 54-year-old’s decision in a Facebook post on Monday. Fan said he would “never use his political influence or take part in any election ever again.”

Gary Fan. File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Fan is one of the 47 democrats charged with subversion under the Beijing-imposed security law after taking part in an unofficial primary election last July to pick candidates for a since-postponed Legislative Council election.

“[I] hope that [I can] be with my wife and daughter in the remaining days, and take care of my family member who suffers from chronic illness,” said the former member of the Neo Democrats. “There is no return date, I am very sorry for not being able to fulfil my responsibilities as a party member, I hope you can understand.”

The 47 were charged on February 28, and 36 of them remain in custody pending trial after just 11 were granted bail. Fan resigned as a district councillor in March.

Under the sweeping legislation, subversion, secession, colluding with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure, are criminalised. If convicted, Fan could face life imprisonment.

Former lawmaker Eddie Chu announced last week he was giving up politics as he expects a long prison term under the national security law and other charges. In April four former Civic Party members charged under the law called for the party to disband.

Other resignations

Fan was a founding member of the Neo Democrats, a party founded in 2010 by a group which broke off from the larger Democratic Party.

The Neo Democrats making the election announcement. Photo: 新民主同盟 NeoDemocrats via Facebook.

He was first elected to the legislature in 2012 and re-elected in 2018 in a by-election, but lost his seat after authorities ruled he had been wrongly elected.

Fan was the latest member to quit the party after former district councillors Roy Tam, Jacky Lai, and Max Wu left the party earlier this year.

At least 30 district councillors have also resigned for various reasons before the government gazettedlaw requiring oaths of loyalty from district councillors.

Henry Chun, Sai Kung district councillor and a member of the Neo Democrats, said he personally would lean towards taking the oath, but the party’s future would be determined by whether their oaths would be accepted by the government.

“We are also worried that we wouldn’t be able to pass [the oath taking requirement], and if so, we have to think how we can continue our operations and how we can survive,” he said.

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.