Behind the curtain: Fred Lee can hardly influence Democratic Party members on election issue

Published (HKT): 2021.05.04 09:31

In a recent media interview, Fred Lee, a veteran member of the Democratic Party, said Beijing had sent a “clear message” to the party that it hoped the party would run for the Legislative Council (LegCo). He also noted it was “impossible” for a political party not to run for elections.

Limited impact of veteran party members

The comments of Lee, a long-standing, senior member of the Democratic Party, have prompted discussions within the political circle. According to a party member, Lee has little impact on the new generation of party members and so he can hardly influence members as to whether they should run or not. The source is also of the view that it is the broader political situation and the opinions of Democratic Party supporters on party members’ possible candidacy that will play a part on whether members will run or not.

According to the source, who is also a veteran party member, although Lee is a senior member, the party has undergone many personnel reshuffles and “the impact of senior members on the party is very limited, and the new generation of members have their own way of thinking”. The source said Lee was merely stating his views on the party in the interview and anyone who thinks his remarks would have a big impact on the party’s position on the election does not understand the party enough.

Nonetheless, the source pointed out that Lee’s position on the election is not “without a bottom line” as some people responding to the interview claimed. For example, Lee did mention Beijing should make the first move to show its goodwill and allow all non-pro-establishment factions to run for LegCo, and he made it clear that among these factions, if it was only the Democratic Party that could run, he would not accept that and that would be a “disaster” for the party. He also noted that if the party was to run, the candidates should be picked by the party itself, not Beijing. “So even if he supports the Democratic Party to run, it is not like he believes members should do so without having any bottom line.”

The source also said that Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei recently noted that the party had to listen to different views before deciding whether to run or not. “Emily Lau is against the idea while Fred Lee is for. These opinions are good food for thought for the party. However, he said it is ultimately the bigger political environment and the views of the party’s supporters that determine whether members will run or not. “If no Democratic Party voter or supporter thinks the party’s members should run, things will not be smooth sailing for the party, regardless of whether its members will run or not,” the source added.

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