10 January 2020
A file picture shows Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai speaking at the party's 24th-year anniversary and fundraising banquet on March 19 last year. Photo: HKEJ
A file picture shows Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai speaking at the party's 24th-year anniversary and fundraising banquet on March 19 last year. Photo: HKEJ

Democratic Party regains mojo amid its 25th anniversary

There is a saying that goes, “Winners do things losers don’t want to do.”

But when it comes to Hong Kong politics it seems to be the other way round.

Consider this: most of the newly-elected district councilors boycotted a meet-and-greet session with Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung last Friday during their first week of work.

Reason? The councilors find it ridiculous that Chief Executive Carrie Lam met the defeated pro-establishment election contestants in person last month, but only sent her deputy to meet with the winners, most of who belong to the democracy camp.

The Democratic Party, Civic Party and the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood scored a landslide victory in the November local body election that was seen as a referendum on the Lam administration as well as the ongoing protest movement in the city.?

The pro-government camp suffered a huge defeat despite having a lot more resources and the dangling of freebies to targeted voters.

Why does our government always grab the wrong end of the stick?

There has always been a love-hate relationship between the government and the Democratic Party, which has rebounded strongly over the past year and now become the largest political party in district councils.

It is quite likely that the party will shine again in the legislative council election this year if the current anti-government sentiment persists within society.

In the first half of 2019, the Democratic Party made headlines as its chairman Wu Chi-wai lashed out at Carrie Lam for her insistence on pushing a controversial extradition law, referring to her as a “bitch”.

The language was unusual coming from a person who is generally considered a gentleman, but the verbal onslaught — which came after Wu was ordered out of the Legco chamber following heated exchanges over the fugitives bill — could perhaps be deemed less serious given the much stronger abuse that Lam had to endure from various quarters in the last six months.

Before the extradition bill saga, the Democratic Party was passing through a crisis of sorts as many Hong Kong people were harboring doubts as to whether the party could still be seen as the major driving force for democracy, given that the opposition stage was starting to be dominated by young guns from outside the traditional political circles.

I remember joining the party’s anniversary gathering last year, which was anything but a well-organized event.

A singing performance by the founding members must be the worst I had ever heard. And the song “The Bund” was so outdated, it made me wonder if the party leaders were hopelessly out of tune with the present.

I had been invited almost at the last minute because one of the organizers knew the venue was just minutes away from my home, after half of the table guests failed to make it to the event.

Well, things have definitely changed now, with the party gaining some of its lost luster and the public looking to the group’s leadership again.

As the party prepares for its 25th anniversary dinner this March, the Democrats are said to have made it clear that they do not want any top brass of the Carrie Lam administration for the celebrations.

Government leaders used to show up for such events in the past, but then relations have soured completely in the past year.

The party has outlined a fundraising goal of HK$4 million this year as it prepares for its silver jubilee bash, a humble target that is likely to be achieved quite easily.

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EJ Insight writer