The Neo Democrats – a local pro-democracy political party – disbanded on Saturday citing the implementation of the national security law and a political environment that was “much worse than before.”
A majority of Neo Democrats members agreed to break up the organisation following an executive committee meeting last week, the 11-year-old party said on Facebook.
The party said they took part in three legislative elections and three polls at the district level, with an aim to serve the community and fight for universal suffrage. But some members had decided to quit, as they came to grips with a “new political system” under the Beijing-enacted security legislation and the new oath-taking requirement for district councillors.
In March, 2021, Beijing passed legislation to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.
“With the spirit of pragmatic localism and perseverance, we earned the support and trust of citizens bit by bit, and won beautiful battles in elections,” the party wrote in a Facebook post. “But over the past two years, Hong Kong has faced drastic changes. The political environment is much worse than before,” it added.
The Neo Democrats were established in 2011, with many of its founding members affiliated with the Democratic Party. It advocated for a high degree of autonomy, democracy, rule of law and human rights.
On Saturday, the party thanked its employees, volunteers and supporters, saying that whether or not its members were serving in the same organisation, they would still walk alongside Hongkongers: “As long as each of our members keep a heart to safeguard social justice… we can still cooperate with people from the democratic camp, making our voices heard together.”
Former district councillors Gary Fan, Roy Tam and Ben Chung submitted their resignations and withdrew from Neo Democrats while in custody pending trial over allegations of “conspiracy to commit subversion.”
They were charged in late February alongside 45 other pro-democracy figures in connection with organising and participating in an unofficial legislative primary election last July. The sweeping legislation enacted on June 30 last year also outlaws secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts.