Hong Kong’s Democratic Party has set out a wide-ranging policy programme on the eve of a vote about whether to contest upcoming elections, saying the party will stay relevant to voters whatever its members decide.

The Legislative Council polls in December will be held under a Beijing-decreed election overhaul sharply reducing democratic representation. A pro-Beijing vetting panel will select candidates even before the vote.

(From left) Former district councillor Nicholas Hon Chun-yin, Chairperson of the Democratic Party Lo Kin-hei, and District Councillor Ramon Yuen. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Lo Kin-hei, leader of the city’s largest opposition party, said it had a duty to keep on representing Hong Kong people whether or not it was in the legislature.

“At this point of time, it is very difficult in politics, it is very difficult in Hong Kong society generally, but I think the Democratic Party still has the obligation to serve the Hong Kong people,” Lo told a news conference this was what it would keep doing, no matter what.

The party, giving its own policy recommendations before the chief executive’s policy address next month, said human rights should be part of the national educational curriculum.

Lo also said that the government should implement Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law to eventually achieve universal suffrage in Hong Kong to “fulfil promises made to Hong Kong people.”

“I think this is very important to several aspects including Hong Kong citizens, Hong Kong’s political system and society, and the government’s rule,” said Lo.

The party also made several suggestions on development, transport, welfare, business regulations and environmental policies.

It suggested that the government scrap the “small house” policy under which male indigenous villagers in the New Territories and their male descendants can build houses without paying a land premium, and stop the Lantau Tomorrow Vision project, a vast reclamation scheme.

Democratic Party District Councillor Ramon Yuen. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

District Councillor Ramon Yuen said that the administration should also stop pursuing the “zero Covid” strategy when handling the pandemic.

“I think we have to start rethinking this strategy as in the long run inevitably we will have to co-exist with the virus,” said Yuen.

Other suggestions include setting up an unemployment relief fund, stabilising bus fares, promoting a green city, protecting consumers’ rights, and passing laws to regulate medical devices.

Political future for democrats

Just one independent legislator remains in the Legislative Council after democrats either resigned or were disqualified. The legislature has also passed a bill to ensure only “patriots” govern Hong Kong.

The party’s general meeting on Sunday will decide whether to run in the Legislative Council election in December.

Fred Li, one of the founding members, said in an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal published on Wednesday that the Democratic Party should contest the election and disband if it decided otherwise.

Chairperson of the Democratic Party Lo Kin-hei. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Lo said he has had “a lot of communication” with Li and other veteran members and was aware of their opinions.

“To me, Fred Li is a member that is more publicly known, and he’s more experienced, but he’s still a party member, and he has one vote, and he still has to persuade other party members whether or not to follow him,” said Lo.

“The most important thing to me is that the party, we make a decision all together in the EGM coming Sunday, and we respect that result no matter what. I think that is the way a political party can go forward in the future.”

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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.