Eleven more district councillors have quit Hong Kong’s Civic Party, leaving only five of their colleagues remaining in the pro-democracy group, as councillors come under pressure from a new oath-taking law intended to weed out “unpatriotic” politicians.

The Chairman of Tsuen Wan District Council Sumly Chan, the Vice Chairman of Yau Tsim Mong District Council Andy Yu and Kwun Tong district councillor Sarah Wong are among the latest group to announce their resignation.

Sumly Chan. Photo: Sumly Chan, via Facebook.

The Civic Party said it “understood and respects” the decision and thanked the 11 for “their contribution to Hong Kong society and the party,” in a statement published on Facebook on Sunday.

“Over the past two years, there have been drastic and major changes in Hong Kong’s political landscape,” the statement said, adding that incumbent and former party members who are district councillors are under “heavy pressure” following the new oath-taking law.

Local media have reported that district councillors would have to take an oath as early as July, and said the government was drafting a “negative list” of past behaviour which would be considered as violating the oaths and lead to disqualification.

Sarah Wong. Photo: Sarah Wong, via Facebook.

The rumoured list includes taking part in or helping coordinate a primary election for democratic candidates held in July last year, lending out their offices as polling stations during the primary, and signing a primary election manifesto. The Civic Party signed the manifesto in its party capacity.

Some 170 pro-democracy district councillors may be forced out of office, according to the media reports last week.

Beijing, under the principle of “patriots” ruling Hong Kong, has announced drastic changes to the city’s electoral system which will drastically reduce the influence of pro-democracy politicians.

Chairperson: ‘extremely heartbroken’

Andy Yu, who announced his resignation on Facebook on Sunday evening, declined to give a reason.

“I can only say two things: first of all I’d like to thank the Civic Party. I’ve stayed in the party for nine years, from an intern, to a community officer, and then I became a district councillor. I want to thank the teaching and training from different people in the party,” Yu told HKFP.

Andy Yu. Photo: Andy Yu, via Facebook.

“As for oath-taking, I’ve never changed my standpoint, I’m leaning towards taking an oath.”

Civic Party’s chairperson Alan Leong said on Sunday he felt “extremely heartbroken” at the latest resignations but “wholeheartedly expressed understanding and respect.”

“You all have contributed a lot for the party and Hong Kong. It is not the most important thing whether [you] continue to serve [Hong Kong] as a member of the Civic Party,” Leong said on Facebook.

“I believe that we will witness together the dawn after the darkness as long as we persist in telling the truth and live in reality while continuing our service, and hold just values in our hearts and be a righteous person.”

The Chairman of Eastern District Council Lai Chi-keong, Eastern district councillors Leung Siu-sun and Derek Ngai and Sha Tin district councillors Michael Yung and Mike Chan are now the only five district councillors remaining in the party.

The pro-democracy camp had a sweeping victory in the 2019 district council elections, winning 388 out of 479 seats. The Civic Party won 32 of those seats.

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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.