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Reluctant James To toes the party line

Thomas Yau

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun dropped his plans to quit the Democratic Party and reluctantly voted with party colleagues in support of the government's revised political reform package.

His differences with the party are not fundamental, which is why he voted yes, said To, a founding member of the party.

He added that the departure of fellow Democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo had put more pressure on him as he considered whether to quit.

To said party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming had asked him to stay. "When I asked how about you, he just said he will go travel."

To also received an anonymous message accusing him of being another Lau Kong-wah.

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Lau was a member of the United Democrats of Hong Kong, one of the predecessors of the Democratic Party. After losing the 1991 Legislative Council elections, Lau left the party and founded the Civil Force, before joining the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong in 1998.

Meanwhile, Cheng said he was hugely relieved after quitting the Democrat ranks.

"A happy break up ... each suggesting its own view," said Cheng yesterday, a day after he announced he was quitting the party during a motion debate in the Legislative Council.

He has had differences of opinion with party colleagues several times in the past, and if he stayed on this time, voters would have doubted him, Cheng said.

But the decision to leave did not come without a struggle, Cheng admitted.

"It is like you are in a relationship with a person for 16 years. I used to address myself as Democratic Party legislator Cheng Kar-foo; now it is just legislator Cheng Kar-foo."

He said the goal of a real democracy is to defend people even if they hold different views.

The split in the pan-democrat camp is something the SAR government is happy to see, said Cheng, adding that he will continue to cooperate with other pan-democrats.

But he is unlikely to run in the next District Council elections.

"I don't have the resources and I think it is time for the next generation to come to the stage."

An emotional Cheng also said he learned a lot from veteran Democrat Szeto Wah: " I wish him all the best."

Cheng said on Wednesday that he was in a moral dilemma over supporting the reform package because it cannot demolish but will only strengthen the functional constituencies.


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