Torn by internal conflicts within the opposition camp on whether incumbent legislators should continue to serve in the extended Legco term over the coming year, the Democratic Party and the Civic Party on Thursday said they would let the public decide whether they stay, or go.
Flanked by six other lawmakers from his party, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai first told reporters they would entrust a “credible agency” to carry out a territory-wide poll, though he did not specify a date for this.
A couple of hours later, the Civic Party said they will abide by that poll result too.
Wu, who has previously said participating in the council would be the lesser of two evils, said his party is still inclined to stay.
He said that although the pan-democrats are a minority in Legco, they still had the ability to delay the passing of draconian laws and controversial funding requests, and staying in the legislature will at least allow them to bring people's attention to matters that could affect the public interest.
But Wu said it was important to reflect public opinion, and his party will abide by whatever decision the people make.
He said he hopes a final decision can be reached by September 30, when the current Legco term was originally meant to end.
Another lawmaker, Lam Cheuk-ting, said the Democrats would hold at least one debate for both sides to present their arguments to help voters better understand the issue, and come to a decision.
Lam acknowledged that the debate as to whether or not lawmakers should stay or go has caused a rift within the pan-democrat camp, and that he did not want to lose the hard-earned unity that was gained within the camp over the last year.
He said that the party did not want this rift to deepen, and it was necessary to end this dispute as soon as possible through the poll.
Some lawmakers within the broader pro-democracy camp, including People Power's Ray Chan and Council Front's Chu Hoi-dick, have called on the opposition camp to stay away from the extended council on the grounds that the lawmakers have no public mandate to serve for one more year.
China’s top legislature had decided last week to extend the term of the current legislature by at least one more year, after the Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Legco poll originally due to be held on September 6 should be postponed by 12 months – citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Last updated: 2020-08-20 HKT 18:40