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HK's Civic Party to dissolve amid suppression

The pro-democracy party is facing an existential crisis with no new nominations for its executive committee due to fear

Alan Leong (third from right) and then-Civic Party members at a press conference on July 25, 2020

Alan Leong (third from right) and then-Civic Party members at a press conference on July 25, 2020. (Photo: Civic Party via HKFP)

Published: December 07, 2022 10:42 AM GMT

Updated: December 07, 2022 12:32 PM GMT

A pro-democracy party in Hong Kong is set to wind up its operations amid an acute leadership crisis reportedly fueled by suppression from the pro-Beijing regime in the politically troubled former British colony.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, chair of the Civic Party, said the party faces an existential crisis since its foundation 16 years ago as none of its members came forward to file new nominations for its executive committee fearing repression from the authorities.

The party did not receive any nominations by Dec. 3, the deadline for submitting the nominations, reports said.

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The reluctance of members to step up to leadership roles “did not come as a surprise,” said Leong, Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported on Dec. 5.

“That has not been something unexpected, given what happened and what transpired in the past half a year or so.”

“There is a time for everything, and I think that is the time for the Civic Party to wind up,” Leong told HKFP.

Leong added that the members had an internal meeting in September to decide on the future of the party.

But “no one came up with anything [they] can meaningfully do” to keep the party running, he said.

Even suggestions to turn the party into a social enterprise were met with cold shoulders from the members who were reluctant to step up as its leaders, said Leong.

The party will hold an annual general meeting on Dec. 17 to form a provisional executive committee. This will follow an emergency meeting to pass a resolution to wind up the Civic Party and find a liquidator.

The party also faces a membership crisis. Its current 300 members have not paid their annual membership fees, which would bar them from taking part in the upcoming meetings.

Leong, 64, also added that the dissolution of the party would mark the end of his political career that began in 2004 after he secured a seat in the Legislative Council.

“That’s the end of it. I think I am old enough to retire as a politician,” he said.

Barrister Audrey Eu Yuet-mee founded the Civic Party in 2006.

It is well known for its representation of professionals in Hong Kong, including lawyers, accountants, and scholars in the city’s legislature.

The party had secured seats in the Legislative Council since 2008.

However, in Nov. 2020, four of its members -- Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki, and Kenneth Leung -- were removed from the legislature for being “unpatriotic” and supporting Hong Kong independence while refusing to admit China’s exercise of sovereignty over the city.

The disqualification of the Civic Party legislators resulted in mass resignations from members of the opposition resulting in the legislature having more pro-Beijing loyalists.

In April 2021, four of the Civic Party members sent an open letter to the leader asking the party to be disbanded.

Alvin Yeung, Jeremy Tam, Kwok Ka-ki, and Lee Yue-shun, are among the 47 well-known political figures who were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion over their involvement in unofficial legislative primary elections held in July 2020.

Among them, Yeung, Tam, and Kwok have been detained for more than 21 months and are waiting for their trial. Along with 27 democrats, the trio has pleaded guilty to the charge and has asked to be sentenced “as soon as possible,” HKFP reported.

Lee on the other hand was granted bail and awaits trial in January 2023 with 16 other co-defendants who denied the charge.

Beijing has used the sweeping National Security Law and the colonial-era sedition law to muzzle dissent and a strong pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Hundreds of pro-democracy supporters have been detained and awaiting trials. Some of the defendants including prominent Catholics have been convicted.

Outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen along with five other co-defendants was found guilty and fined for failing to properly register a humanitarian fund that supported pro-democracy protesters.

Jimmy Lai, a Catholic media tycoon and founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper has been convicted of fraud in October.

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