The Frontier
Democrats have new baby. . .

By Eric Chau

The establishment of self-appointed political alliance, The Frontier, may represent a split in the liberal camp, political analysts say.

The alliance is comprised of five pro-democratic Legislative Councillors: Miss Emily Lau Wai-hing, Mrs. Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien, Mr. Lau Chin-shek, Mr. Lee Cheuk-yan, Mr. Leung Yiu-chung, and more than 100 liberals.

They intend to ally people of the same beliefs: democracy, human rights, freedom and respect for the rule of law in Hong Kong.

“Many liberals have become lax on these issues after Governor Chris Patten initiated the political reforms,” said unionist Leung Yiu-chung. “Therefore, we needed to form an alliance with firm stance defending human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Hong Kong. Otherwise, things would definitely deteriorate after 1997.”

According to Frontier’s manifesto, the members will fight for the rights to choose their government by universal suffrage, to draft their own constitution, to enjoy executive, legislative, independent judicial powers, and to have final adjudication power — that is, a final court of appeal.

“We must draft a new Basic Law to match the will of Hongkongers, as the existing one was drafted by a small appointed group instead of enacted and endorsed by the majority,” Mr. Leung said.

Regarding Beijing, there is no basis for them to have dialogue with those who do not recognize the Basic Law and want to work on a different one.

“We do not emphasize too much forging a dialogue with the Chinese Government. Instead we should be concerned whether China can genuinely let Hongkongers rule Hong Kong,” Leung said.

A lecturer in the Department of Government and Public Administration at Hong Kong University, Dr. Lo Shiu-hing, says that the formation of The Frontier represents cracks within the democratic alliance.

But with similar political stances between the alliance and the Democratic Party, co-operation should be no problem. No clashes should appear as long as their interests match.

On the matter of voting, the five legislators are not committed to vote unanimously, as The Frontier is not a party. “We have no rules on voting, but we should seek consistency as long as possible,” Mr. Leung said. They agree on issues relating to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, despite their minor differences.

One of the members of The Frontier, Miss Choy Lai Kuen, said that they will hoist banners in the streets, distribute pamphlets, write to newspapers and organize petitions to the future chief executive to have their beliefs publicized. The Frontier hopes that more people will support it regardless of their party affiliation.

Miss Choy said, “We are now aiming at arousing Hongkongers’ consciousness to pursue human rights and the rule of law. Although we are encountering financial problems, we will keep on fighting.”

They hope to continue The Frontier after 1997. Mr. Leung said if the alliance is forced to be disbanded in the future, all other parties in Hong Kong will face similar fate.

“The prospects of The Frontier depend on whether its stance is steadfast and it is willing to work with the Democratic Party,” said Dr. Lo of Hong Kong University.

Mr. Leung said they will not emphasize too much the scramble for seats in the Legislative Council, yet they will not rule out the possibility that some members may take part in the 1998 election.

“Our main job at hand is to expose the non-democratic process of establishing the Provisional Legislative Council. Another is to advocate universal suffrage to choose the chief executive of the Special Administrative Region,” unionist Leung said.

Miss Emily Lau said, “We hope Hongkongers will regard The Frontier as a breath of fresh air and see in us individuals who are prepared to work tirelessly for lofty ideas and principles.”

November 1996

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