Democratic Party (Hong Kong)

The Democratic Party (Jyutping: man4 zyu2 dong2) is a pro-democracy and liberal political party in the Hong Kong. It was established on 2 October 1994. The party is currently headed by Chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan, and has 613 ordinary members and 18 associate members as of 7 December 2006.

Party Beliefs

From the outset, the party supported the restoration of Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong. Since the handover it has consistently stressed the "two systems" part of the "one country, two systems" principle. Apart from that, the party's stance on Hong Kong's future development differs with pro-Beijing parties. It believes Hong Kong must develop more democratic institutions and preserve freedoms and human rights in order to achieve prosperity.

The party proposed policies on various areas of governance through designated spokespersons, including:

  • Amendment of the Basic Law to achieve more democracy and safeguard freedoms, while achieving closer economic cooperation with Mainland China.
  • Protection of human rights.
  • Maintain Hong Kong's status as an international finance and trade centre and improve its economic infrastructure (concrete details not given), as well as a more flexible way to control public expenditure.
  • Better monitoring of public services and utilities (i.e. more accountability), and strengthened measures to protect the environment.
  • More resources for education, with less vague policies.
  • Reasonable (i.e. larger) share of economic achievements by the employee for the employee, and increased involvement by the Government to protect labour laws in accordance with social needs.
  • Adopt measures to regulate property prices from fluctuation, and provide adequate public housing
  • Increase spending on social welfare.
  • Universal suffrage by 2007/8 (but since Dec 2005, 2012).

Overall, the Democratic Party advocates economic policies pretty close to "liberalism" in the sense of John Rawls (rather than, say, of Robert Nozick or Friedrich Hayek, as commonly accepted outside North America), in sharp contrast with the traditional radical free-market orientation of Hong Kong. However, this point is rarely mentioned in the speeches held by party members during their trips abroad to seek political support. The party's position on social or cultural issues is not well-defined but verges on the conservative, partly due to sizeable support from Catholic constituents. In a way that may seem contradictory to traditional liberal ideology, the party generally opposes the legalization of commercial sex or gambling operations.


Patten Period, 1994-1997

The Democratic Party was formed with the merger of the two largest pro-democracy political groups at the time, the United Democrats of Hong Kong which was formed in April 1990, and the Meeting Point which was formed in 1983. It was the first group to formally consider itself a political party in Hong Kong.

Before the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the UK to the People's Republic of China in July 1997, the DP was the largest party - following the earlier success of the pro-democracy camp in the 1991 LegCo election, the party won 19 seats in the 1995 Legislative Council (LegCo) election.

The popularity of the party principally rose from its position towards the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, for which it had solemnly condemned the Chinese Government. In the run-up to 1997, with widespread sentiment of uncertainty then towards the future of Hong Kong under Chinese rule, the party supported the controversial package of political reform bought about by the last British colonial Hong Kong Governor, Chris Patten.

The party's stance conflicted with the PRC government's, which, for a while, earned the party more popularity and recognition both locally and overseas. The founder and then party chairman, Mr. Martin Lee Chu-ming, became well-known internationally in the run-up to reunification as a human rights and democracy fighter, and won a number of international human rights awards.

The party refused to join the Provisional Legislative Council established in December 1996 in protest of its formation. As the body became the official legislature of Hong Kong SAR after reunification, the party lost all its seats in the legislature, until the first LegCo election of the HKSAR on 24 May 1998.


Under the proportional representation system which the HKSAR Government considered the best representation of the spectrum of views of the community, the party secured 12 out of 60 seats in the first LegCo election in 1998, including 9 out of 20 seats from the geographical constituencies, in which the party received 43% of the vote.

During this period, the party's popularity declined. Some analysis attributed this to increased concerns on economic issues as opposed to political ones, and unpopular party positions, such as on the Right of Abode issue in 1999. In the second LegCo election two years later in 2000, the party's share of the vote in the geographical constituencies dropped to 35%, and the party secured 9 out of the 24 directly elected seats. Its total number of seats in LegCo remained at 12.

Meanwhile, the party was plagued by internal fragmentation, further affecting its image. Lau Chin Shek was expelled from the party in 2000. LegCo member Chan Wai-yip quit the party in December 2001 following the succession of former Chairman Martin Lee by Yeung Sum, leaving the party with 11 seats in LegCo. In April 2002, some members in the "Young Turks" camp within the party left and joined The Frontier.

This factionalism stemmed from the political and economic orientation of the party platform. On the political side, some "Young Turks" of the party considered the party leaders too eager to establish a "dialogue" with Beijing and the HKSAR Government, and insufficiently confrontational with the authorities. Some also considered the party too "middle-class" and distant from the grass-roots on labour issues - such as proposed legislation on a minimum wage, which the party did not support.

2002 and 2003 saw a rebound in popularity, largely due to the Article 23 issue and the low popularity of the HKSAR Government headed by Tung Chee Hwa. The party benefited from its opposition standpoint and achieved an impressive victory in the 2003 District Council elections, claiming 92 seats compared with 86 in the last election in 1999.

In 2004, the popularity of other groups and individuals in the pro-democratic camp (such as members of the Article 45 Concern Group and Albert Cheng), together with the emergence of scandals concerning two of the party's candidates in the LegCo election this year, began to wane. As a result, the Democratic Party only won 9 seats (7 in geographical constituencies and 2 in functional constituencies) overall, becoming the third largest party in LegCo behind the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (12) and the Liberal Party (10). Last-minute party tactics aimed at securing votes in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency ironically led to the defeat of another democratic camp candidate, Cyd Ho, causing further dissatisfaction among some supporters of the party and the democratic camp generally.

Since early 2005, 24 members had quit the party, including district councillor Fong Chan Bong (who was forced out by the party) and Lau Tak Cheung. Twelve district councillors also left the party. Another district councillor died in a car accident. The number of district councillors decreased by 13 to 79.

In March, 2006, the Mainstream faction alleged that some senior members were involved in spying activities of China. The "suspects" were all Young Turks members including vice-chairman Chan King Ming and Gary Fan. Tension between the two factions increased.

The Civic Party was established in March, 2006. It is not clear that whether the DP will lose members to the CP. In January ,Grace Au Died In Heart Attack ,The Vacant Pursuant Replace In Sze Lan Hung .


Mainstream Camp

The "Mainstream Camp" (主流派) is the leading faction of the party since the party found in 1994. It is led by Lee Wing Tat. It composed of both Meeting Point members (those who're not moderate) and United Democrats. It has 7 Legco members. It supports the line of Legislative Council, cross-classes direction and limited communication with the Communist Party of China.

Young Turks

The "Young Turks" (少壯派) is the main opposition faction inside the party. They often refer themselves as "reformists" (改革派). It is led by Gary Fan. It has 1 Legco member. It is mainly formed by former student leaders such as HKFS ex-chairman Cheung Yin Tung and The Hong Kong University Students' Union ex-chairman Fung Wai Kwong. It called for the separation of power between party legislators and party leaders. It opted for a more radical line than the Mainstream Camp. Other important members include Cheng Kar Foo and Prof. Chan King Ming. In 1997, some of the Young Turks members joined the Frontier. They mainly belong to the New Territories East Branch which is currently head by Chan King Ming.


The Unionists (工會派) or the Labours was a faction formed by union leaders. They included Lau Chin-shek and Lee Cheuk-yan. They are leaders of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. The unionists were mainly expelled or quit the party.

Meeting Point Camp

The "Meeting Point Camp" (匯點派) refers to moderate Democrats who were from the Meeting Point. It has 1 Legco member.

List of chairmen:

  1. Martin Lee (1994-2002)
  2. Yeung Sum (2002-2004)
  3. Lee Wing Tat (2004-2006)
  4. Albert Ho Chun-yan (2006-)

See also

External links

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