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Hong Kong pro-democracy party officially closes

Civic Party falls victim to a leadership vacuum attributed to the restrictive Beijing-imposed national security law
This photo taken on Aug. 3, 2023, shows veteran politician Alan Leong at the Civic Party headquarters, once the second largest opposition party in the city, as he prepares to vacate the party's office space in Hong Kong. The name of the party was removed from Hong Kong’s company registry on March 27 making its closure final.

This photo taken on Aug. 3, 2023, shows veteran politician Alan Leong at the Civic Party headquarters, once the second largest opposition party in the city, as he prepares to vacate the party's office space in Hong Kong. The name of the party was removed from Hong Kong’s company registry on March 27 making its closure final. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 28, 2024 10:11 AM GMT
Updated: March 28, 2024 10:15 AM GMT

Hong Kong’s second-largest pro-democracy party has been officially shut down following a leadership vacuum attributed to the restrictive Beijing-imposed national security law.

Following a six-month voluntary winding-up process, the name of the Civic Party was removed from Hong Kong’s company registry on March 27 making its closure final, Hong Kong Free Press (HKPF) reported on March 28.

Chairperson Alan Leong Kah-kit, a senior counsel, said that the move, including clearing out the party headquarters symbolized that it was “disappearing once and for all.”

“It was difficult to assess the possible legal risks facing the party even after its disbandment,” Leong said.

The party joins dozens of civil society groups, including the Civil Human Rights Front and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, which have been disbanded after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020.

Following the reluctance of Civic Party members to join its executive committee fearing repression from the authorities, the party decided to wind up its operations in May 2023.

Even suggestions to turn the party into a social enterprise were ignored by members, Leong told HKFP.

The party also reportedly faced a financial and membership crisis with 300 of its members did not pay annual membership fees in 2022.

Founded on March 19, 2006, by core members of an electoral reform advocacy group, the Civic Party was once the second-largest opposition party in the Hong Kong legislature.

The Civic Party managed to win 32 seats in the 2019 Hong Kong District Council election while the Democracy Party secured a landslide victory.

The party refrained from contesting the 2021 legislative elections, a year that saw a massive overhaul with a screening committee established to allow only “patriotic” legislators in the assembly.

Some of the city’s most prominent politicians were reportedly from the Civic Party. They included Leong, Margaret Ng, Audrey Eu, and Ronny Tong, all lawyers and elected lawmakers.

Former party leader Alvin Yeung, and ex-members Kwok Ka-ki, Jeremy Tam, and Lee Yue-shun are among the 47 democrats accused of conspiring to commit subversion, HKFP reported.

Lee is the only one to be granted bail as they await verdicts or sentencing.

A former lawmaker from the party was listed as a most wanted fugitive for allegedly endangering national security.

Yeung, Kwok, and Tam have been remanded in custody with many other defendants since March 2021.

The national security police had issued an arrest warrant and offered a HK$1 million (US$127,817) bounty for the arrest of US-based Dennis Kwok, a former Civic Party lawmaker.

Kwok is alleged to have supported foreign sanctions against China and the city, HKFP reported.

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