The Democratic Party, now the largest political group in the pan-democratic camp following the huge number of seats it gained in the recent District Council elections, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its founding on March 24.
There is talk that the party has decided not to invite Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and any of the politically accountable officials in her cabinet to attend the event.
Back in 2018, when Lam was still in a “honeymoon period” with the pan-dems, she eagerly attended the party’s anniversary dinner and even donated HK$30,000 out of her own pocket after former lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming sang a Cantonese song.
But in March 2019, when the relations between the pan-democratic camp and Lam began to turn sour following her decision to press ahead with the revision on the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, she, along with Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, didn’t get invitations to the party’s anniversary celebration.
Even so, a number of government officials still attended the reception last year.
And there was a sideshow to last year’s event: Li, the “fundraising champion”, dropped out of the party’s fundraising committee as a protest against the decision not to invite Lam.
For this year, according to sources, there are party members who are questioning the wisdom of holding an anniversary celebration?at a time when the social atmosphere remains tense?amid the months-long protests and frontline activists continue to be?on the receiving end of police brutality and arbitrary arrests.
However, the party took into account the fact that this year marks its highly significant silver jubilee and the occasion also presents?a precious opportunity for raising funds to build its war chest for the upcoming Legco elections. As such, the Dems eventually decided to go ahead with the celebration.
Yet, as social tensions continue, the party realizes the need to?dissociate itself from Lam and her regime.
Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, chairman of the party’s fundraising committee, told us that back in March 2019, they decided to slam the door only on the faces of Lam and her justice minister because the anti-extradition movement was just emerging at the time.
Things are drastically different today. The protests have raged on for the past seven months, and the Lam administration has continued to dig its heels in, Yuen said.
As such, he said, it would be very inappropriate for the Democratic Party to invite Lam and her entire cabinet to attend its anniversary celebration.
During the mass demonstrations in recent months, the party has been raising money for its?612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. And the upcoming anniversary dinner and raffle ticket sales are the only major channels left to raise funds, Yuen said.
Given the current tense political environment, Yuen expects a substantial decline in the amount of donations from the business community. That said, the party has, for the time being, set this year’s fundraising target at HK$4 million, the same amount it managed to raise in 2019.
The main theme of the March 24 banquet should correspond to the ongoing resistance movement, and the whole event will avoid appearing too jubilant, he added.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 6
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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