Hong Kong Democratic Party Chair Lo Kin-hei has said its members will decide whether to participate in the Legislative Council later this year, despite the resignation of over 50 of the party’s district councillors amid government pressure.

Lo Kin-hei. File Photo: Ocean Tham/HKFP.

In response to a reporter’s question on Tuesday morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that it would be “strange” if a political party did not discuss, debate or participate in politics, and that one might question their value.

Her comments came after pro-Beijing figure Lo Man-tuen said the Democratic Party would encounter a “dead end” if its members did not run in the next elections.

“[Lam’s comments] may be reasonable under a normal situation,” Lo said in response. “It is also very ‘strange’ that a leader would seek another term and refuse to step down, even after an error in judgement provoked deep resentment among the people, sowed division in the community, and caused a wave of emigration,” he added, referring to the 2019 protests and unrest that rocked the city. The protests were sparked by Lam’s move to table a bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects to China.

Carrie Lam. Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

In March 2021, Beijing passed legislation to ensure only “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.

To be decided

Meanwhile, several senior figures from pro-democracy political parties remain in jail on offences related to the 2019 protests, leaving few candidates vying for the upcoming legislative race.

Alan Leong of the Civic Party has said that they had “reached the end of the road” in electoral politics, while League of Social Democrats leaders said their party will not participate the next legislative election.

“Whether to run in this year’s Legislative Council election will be decided by our members during our annual meeting in September depending on the political situation,” Lo said.

File Photo: Elson Tong/HKFP.

The Democratic Party saw its directly-elected district councillors resign en masse last month, after government leaks suggested they were to face disqualification and will have to repay their salaries and subsidies, Lo said.

The number of Democratic Party directly-elected district representatives plunged from from 80 to 27 as a result.

“[This] severely affected our ability to mobilise in districts,” Lo said. “[I] believe a lot of party members will consider this during our vote on participating in the election by the end of September.”

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.