To: Letters to the Editor, South China Morning Post
From: Emily Lau, chairperson, Democratic Party and Legco member
26 May 2015
Your editorial on 24 May criticised the Democratic Party (DP) Central Committee's decision to suspend the membership of Mr Nelson Wong Sing-chi, a former DP Legislative Councillor and a former member of the DP Central Committee, for breaking ranks with the party to launch a petition to give the government political reform package backing conditional on minor concessions. You said "it ill becomes a group that preaches democracy and inclusiveness to turn on someone with dissenting views....To say you are either 100 per cent with us on political reform or against us is more akin to the style of an authoritarian party."
Being a member of the DP Central Committee, which exercises leadership over party affairs, Mr Wong seldom attended our meetings and rarely discussed this hot topic with us. Thus when he made his views known in the news media many weeks ago, many DP members were stunned. We were shocked because he had not discussed or debated this issue with us. His views were in sharp contrast to the decision of the Central Committee and caused uproar and consternation within the party. Because Mr Wong gave so many interviews to the electronic and print media, many members of the public thought he was speaking on behalf of the DP. Some even thought he was trying to steer the DP away from our opposition to the government package and to get the six DP Legco members to vote in support of the package.
Such confusion and misunderstanding has done a lot of damage to the DP. This is because members of the public expect political parties to have clear and unambiguous position on important public policies, and they cannot understand or accept a member of the party leadership expressing views which are in sharp contrast to the party's professed position,
Mr Wong's views, which were widely broadcast in the news media, have undermined public support and confidence in the DP, and caused unhappiness and dismay within the party. Responding to members' anger and concern, he resigned from the Central Committee on 16 April. However that did not stop him from continuing with his campaign to get the party to support the government package, saying it was better than nothing. Then he announced his plan to launch a petition. Mr Albert Ho, Legco member and former DP chair, urged him not to do it. Albert said if he insisted, he would move a motion in the Central Committee meeting to suspend his membership. Mr Wong refused to listen, until shortly before the vote was taken. Many members felt Mr Wong's action had done grave damage to the party and so the Central Committee voted 21 to 1 to suspend his membership on 21 May. In so doing, we want to send a clear signal to the community DP will not support the government package because it will not give the Hong Kong people genuine choice. Looking at the sequence of events, I don't see how any reasonable person can describe the action taken by the DP is akin to the style of an authoritarian party.