Emily Lau

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The Honourable
Emily Lau Wai-hing
Emily Lau Wai Hing 2010 Enlarged.jpg
Emily Lau at City Forum, 2010
Chairwoman of the Democratic Party
Assumed office
16 December 2012
Deputy Richard Tsoi
Lo Kin-kei
Preceded by Albert Ho
Member of the Legislative Council
Assumed office
1 July 1998
Preceded by New parliament
Constituency New Territories East
In office
9 October 1991 – 30 June 1997
Preceded by New constituency
Succeeded by Replaced by Provisional Legislative Council
Constituency New Territories East
Personal details
Born (1952-01-21) 21 January 1952 (age 62)
Hong Kong
Nationality Hong Kong Chinese
Political party Democratic Party
Other political
Frontier (1996–2008)
Spouse(s) Winston Poon (1989–2006)
Residence Hong Kong
Alma mater University of Southern California
London School of Economics
Occupation Legislative Councillor
Profession Journalist (formerly)
Website http://www.emilylau.org.hk/

Emily Lau Wai-hing JP (Chinese:劉慧卿; born 21 January 1952, Hong Kong) is a Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council in the geographical seat of New Territories East. She is chairwoman of Democratic Party.[1]

Education and early career[edit]

Lau obtained a BA degree in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Southern California in 1976, and later earned her MSc in international relations at the London School of Economics.[2]

She began her career as a journalist in 1976. From 1987 to 1990 she was a lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and also a lecturer of the Certificate in Journalism in the Department of Extra Mural Studies of the University of Hong Kong. Lau was the chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association from 1989 to 1991.

Political career[edit]

Lau was the first woman to be directly elected into the Legislative Council (Legco), in September 1991, and has since been a full-time member of the Council, representing the geographical constituency of New Territories East (with the exception of the period July 1997 to 1998).

In 1996 Lau co-founded The Frontier, serving as its convenor and always its dominant figure, defending an assertive political platform within the democratic camp. In November 2008, The Frontier merged into the more mainstream Democratic Party and Lau immediately became one of its two vice-chairpersons. Four years later in the party leadership election on 16 December 2012, she was elected chairwoman, narrowly defeating vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai, by 149 votes to 133, becoming the first female leader of the party since its formation in 1994.[3] For three months prior she had been acting chairperson of the party, following the resignation of Albert Ho, in the aftermath of the 2012 Legislative Council election.[1]

Political stances[edit]

Lau led The Frontier at the forefront of pressure on the government for early democratisation and was an outspoken critic on human rights and a number of other policy areas in the HKSAR; she was skeptical of the functioning of the "One country, two systems" principle. Beside pushing for tightened human rights protection, greater efforts on equal opportunities, and the establishment of a statutory right to access to information, she demanded a redraft of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitutional document, and democratisation in China. On the economy she supported legislation on fair trading, oppose importation of foreign labour, and called for a minimum wage.

After The Frontier merged into the Democratic Party in 2008, her earlier strident stance toward the Beijing Government and opposition to pro-Beijing supporters mellowed somewhat and was seen by some even to have been compromised.[4]

On international issues, Lau is supportive of self-determination for Taiwan. In 2003, she and another legislator, James To of the Democratic Party, attended a seminar entitled "Hong Kong Under One Country, Two Systems" organised by a pro-Taiwan independence group headed by former ROC President Lee Teng-hui. Lau stated that "Taiwan's future should be determined by the Taiwan people themselves". Her subsequent refusal to explicitly recognise Taiwan as a part of the PRC during an interview again drew criticism from more conservative sectors of the Hong Kong society.

In June 2010, as vice-chairperson of Democratic Party, she voted with her party in favour of the government’s 2012 constitutional reform package, which included the party's late amendment – accepted by the Beijing government – to hold a popular vote for five new District Council functional constituencies.[5]

Controversies and attacks[edit]

In 1998, Lau sued the Hong Kong branch of the Xinhua News Agency over its slow response to her queries for personal information. She lost the case and was ordered by the court to pay legal fees of HK$1.6 million. Claiming that her lawsuit was in the public interest, she attempted to raise funds from the public to repay the debt. In December 2000, with over $1 million still outstanding, the agency (now the Central People's Government Liaison Office) applied to the court for her bankruptcy.

When Lau visited Taipei for a symposium on Hong Kong after the failure of the government to enact legislation on Article 23, pro-PRC media in Hong Kong attacked her personally by publishing half-page articles calling her the "Taiwan independence Legco member". Local communists also attempted to discredit her, even reporting her to the police.[6]

Beside her legal problems, Lau has been the victim of several criminal nuisance cases, including telephone nuisance to her office in January and October 2003, and two cases where food and/or faeces were splashed outside her office in Shatin in July and September 2003. A woman and an old man were arrested and fined in connection with some of these cases. Most notably, an arson attack against Lau's office took place on 21 June 2004. Posters outside her office, about an upcoming rally, were burned. Words were left saying "All Chinese traitors must die (所有漢汗(奸)都要死)".


Lau received the Bruno Kreisky Award for her human rights work in 1998.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Emily Lau Wai-hing elected Democratic Party chairwoman, SCMP, 16 December 2012
  2. ^ Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP, Legco biography
  3. ^ Lau makes political history, The Standard, 17 December 2012
  4. ^ Democratic Party becomes moderate but no wiser
  5. ^ Cheers and jeers for political reform vote, SCMP, Gary Cheung, Albert Wong and Fanny WY Fung, 25 June 2010
  6. ^ Lin, Paul (17 September 2003). "Tung Chee-hwa is playing for time", Association for Asian Research

External links[edit]

Legislative Council of Hong Kong
New constituency Member of Legislative Council
Representative for New Territories East
With: Andrew Wong (1991–1995)
Replaced by
Provisional Legislative Council
New parliament Member of Legislative Council
Representative for New Territories East
With: Cyd Ho (1998–2000)
Andrew Wong (1998–2004)
Lau Kong-wah, Andrew Cheng (1998–2012)
Nelson Wong (2000–2004)
James Tien, Li Kwok-ying (2004–2008)
Ronny Tong, Leung Kwok-hung (2004–present)
Nelson Wong (2008–2012)
Gary Chan (2008–present)
Fernando Cheung, Elizabeth Quat, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, James Tien, Gary Fan (2012–present)
Party political offices
New political party Convenor of the Frontier
Merged into Democratic Party
Preceded by
Tik Chi-yuen
Vice Chairperson of Democratic Party
Served alongside: Sin Chung-kai
Succeeded by
Richard Tsoi
Preceded by
Albert Ho
Chairperson of Democratic Party
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Lau Wong-fat
Member of the Legislative Council
Hong Kong order of precedence
Member of the Legislative Council
Succeeded by
Tam Yiu-chung
Member of the Legislative Council