SCMP Tuesday, September 12, 2000


Martin Lee pledges review


The Democrats have pledged a full-scale review of the party line and factional disputes in the wake of an alarming drop in electoral support.
But party leaders denied their critical stance towards Beijing and the Government had made them less popular.
The party's total share of the vote dropped seven points to 34.7 per cent. Party leader Martin Lee Chu-ming said the fall was serious and vowed a full review.
Mr Lee admitted "faults", saying: "We ought to take a serious look at the party itself . . . whether there is something wrong with our policies, the work in districts or whether we could actually unite the party."
Party vice-chairman Dr Yeung Sum conceded the party had let down voters. "Some of our supporters did not cast their ballots. Obviously they are disappointed with us. They don't like the DAB. But we the Democrats did not perform well," Dr Yeung said.
Mr Lee described the high vote for the scandal-plagued Gary Cheng Kai-nam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), as "bewildering".
Another party vice-chairman, Albert Ho Chun-yan, suggested voters were wrong to have opted for the DAB. Mr Ho said "the fact that voters made wrong decisions or have been irrational in a particular instance doesn't mean they will be fooled forever".
He also hit out at Tung Chee-hwa, saying the limited power of the legislature had put off voters: "The Basic Law has emasculated Legco's power. If Mr Tung's intention is to suppress [undecided] voters, he has been very successful."
Other reasons for the poor performance included competition with like-minded candidates and the strong canvassing machinery of the pro-Beijing camp, the party said.
In a solemn pledge to restore the party's position, leaders said there would be public hearings to determine the way forward.
Mr Ho denied the public had abandoned the party because of its stance. With the pro-democracy camp grabbing up to 70 per cent of votes in some geographical polls, Mr Ho stressed the Democrats and their allies remained the people's choice.
"The mainstream view is that the pro-democracy camp still enjoys majority support. I don't think accusations such as we are anti-Beijing hold water."