SCMP Monday, September 11, 2000

Tien calls for soul searching


Updated at 3.03am:
Liberal Party Chairman James Tien Pei-chun said lawmakers needed to give the low turnout in the Legislative Council elections an ''indepth study''
Speaking to after his colleague Miriam Kau Kin-yee held her transport functional constituency, Mr Tien said the University of Hong Kong exit poll showed that it would be hard to translate her success in the geographical constituencies, where the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong was forecast to make gains.
The DAB 's apparent success in the face of the Gary Cheng scandal showed that ''people's main concern is the economy and jobs'', problems Mr Tien said that people now felt ''Legco simply is unable to address''.
While he noted that participation in 1998 was unprecedented, Mr Tien felt all parties needed a long hard look at the causes behind the apparent apathy.
''Ten per cent is a substantial drop. We are talking about 150,000 voters. That is a really substantial figure,'' he said.
Earlier, Mr Tien said he had voted for the Democratic Party in Hong Kong Island - even though he ordered his party members to support non-affiliated Ronald Fung Leung-lo.
Mr Tien said he had backed the list headed by Democrat chief Martin Lee Chu-ming because Mr Lee had voted for him in last November's district council poll.
Mr Tien won that contest, but party vice-chairman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee was defeated by Mr Fung.
''I am now giving him back the vote I owed him. Although the Liberal Party supports Fung Leung-lo, I cast a vote for Mr Lee in return,'' Mr Tien said.
The party, which did not contest Hong Kong Island, was accused of political expediency after it decided on Friday to back Mr Fung.