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Thursday, July 14, 2016, 22:34

Fang recalls the highs and lows of political life

By Joseph Li
Fang recalls the highs and lows of political life
Liberal Party lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang said it could be possible for his party and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong to merge. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG - During the 12 years as a lawmaker, Vincent Fang Kang has certainly experienced the highs and lows with the Liberal Party. In its best years, the party held 10 seats and was a dominant force in the Legislative Council from 2004-08.

Yet it suffered a humiliating election defeat in 2008, followed by factional strife, with three legislators leaving to form a new political party. This is today known as the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPL).

Eight years after the split, Fang said both are pro-business parties whose thinking is similar. There are strong voices in the business community that they will merge as a single party to take care of business interests.

“I have come through the most difficult time with the Liberal Party,” he recollected. “For this term, we have five seats, compared with 10 seats in 2004. Yet in 2008, we were down to three seats.

“The split occurred after (then chairman) James Tien Pei-chun and Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee both lost seats in the election. As the party’s constitution requires the chairman must be a lawmaker, Tien resigned from the post of chairman,’’ he explained.

“Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung wanted to be party chairman and had Tien’s backing. But later Miriam Lau Kin-yee also wanted to the chairman. This displeased Lam and he disagreed to an internal election because he knew Lau would surely win as a more senior member.”

Years later, Fang said the business community, including large and small enterprises, wants the two parties to combine. He thought this could be possible.

“The business people feel it is difficult for them to take sides when there are two pro-business parties,” he said. “The merger could be possible in the years to come after James Tien and I have retired. (BPL chairman) Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen and (BPL vice-chairman) Jeffrey Lam may also step down four years later and so the future leaders of the parties have not any historical baggage or burden,” Fang said.

He feels the Legislative Council has become more chaotic and is having more serious confrontations with the government. Both the government and lawmakers have a responsibility to the residents, but it is very hard to pass anything.

He regretted the failure to achieve political reform last year. “Although some people were not satisfied with the nomination procedure, it was a chance to move forward because all voters could choose the Chief Executive by one-man-one-vote.

“If the universal suffrage proposal were passed, society would have been more harmonious and would not be so seriously divided,” Fang added.

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