Liberal Party (Hong Kong)
|Founded||6 June 1993|
|Headquarters||801-803, Manhattan Place, 23 Wang Tai Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong|
|National affiliation||Pro-Beijing camp|
|Colours||Blue, green; previously Sky blue and yellow|
|Politics of Hong Kong
Formed by a group of appointed and pro-business Legislative Council members under the chairmanship of Allen Lee in 1993. It emerged as one of the three largest parties alongside with the pro-democratic Democratic Party and the Beijing loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, with the stronghold in the indirectly elected functional constituencies. It has had little success in the attempts of geographical constituency general elections. After the 2008 Legislative Council election, four party members in the Legco split heavily devastated the party.
The Liberal Party is currently the 6th largest partyin the Legislative Council holding five seats.
The Liberal Party is considered conservative and pro-business. Despite being friendly with Beijing, it fits in the centre-right political spectrum. Although not libertarian in the traditional sense, the party expounds libertarian economic policies such as opposition to a minimum wage, collective bargaining and antitrust legislation. The Liberals also support limited government, low taxes, and a high degree of economic freedom. The party has been fairly neutral on social issues such as universal suffrage, whilst opposing measures that it considers disturb public sentiment: the resignation from the Executive Council of its leader James Tien in 2003 prevented the implementation of Article 23 of the Basic Law, which ultimately accelerated the downfall of the Tung administration.
The party does not advocate welfare entitlements. Many of its members are from the merchant and business sectors and see preserving the current state of economic freedom as most advantageous for Hong Kong as a whole.
It was originally founded as a party for businesspeople appointed to the Legislative Council by the Government of Hong Kong led by Allen Lee the Senior Unofficial Member in both Legislative Council and Executive Council.
It was transformed from a loose political grouping Cooperative Resource Centre founded on 12 December 1991 by the appointed members in the Legislative Council as a counter-force to the pro-democracy camp elected in the first direct election in 1991. Wishing to see a smooth transition of sovereignty of Hong Kong, the party strongly opposed to the last governor Chris Patten's democratic reform as the PRC government stated it violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration. In the 1995 election, party chairman Allen Lee successfully gained a seat in direct election with 9 other seats gained in the functional constituency indirect election.
James Tien's chairmanship
It has been alleged that the party began leaning towards the pro-government camp a few years before the transfer of sovereignty. Under Tung Chee Hwa's administration, it was generally considered a government ally. Tien was appointed to the Executive Council by Tung Chee Hwa in 2002.
On 6 July 2003, James Tien Pei Chun, the party's leader, resigned from the Executive Council and forced the government to delay the second reading of the legislation to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law. This exception to the party's usual pro-government policy was popular and temporarily calmed friction between pro-government and the pro-democracy forces. Some leftists, however, felt that this demonstrated the opportunistic nature of the party.
At almost the same time, the Liberal Party shifted its stance on political development from "all Legislative Council members should be directly elected in 2007" to "Hong Kong should become more democratic." The founder and ex-chair of Liberal Party, Allen Lee Peng Fei, decided to leave the party since he believed the change was against public sentiment. The party's stance on universal suffrage then became similar to that of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), namely, that universal suffrage should be implemented in or after 2012 rather than in 2007/8.
The Liberal Party saw its greatest success in the 2004 Legislative Council election. With its success in gaining seats from the geographical constituencies through direct elections while retaining those seats in the functional constituencies, the party increased its seats from seven (in the 2000 elections) to ten, overtaking the Democratic Party for the first time since 1995 to become the second-largest political party in the legislature.
When Donald Tsang took over in November 2005, the party continued its generally pro-government stance. In 13 January 2006, the Liberal Party opposed Chief Executive Donald Tsang's plan to implement a five-day working week for most civil servants, due to concerns that this would put too much pressure on small to medium-sized enterprises to follow suit. The change went ahead and was widely adopted in the private sector. There is no planned legislation to force private employers to commit to a five-day working week.
The fate of the party hung in the balance after its poor showing in the 2008 Legco election. The party won seven seats, all in the functional constituencies, eliminating its limited public mandate; leader James Tien and deputy leader Selina Chow both lost their geographical constituency seats, and both resigned their party functions. There were recriminations when Chow blamed the loss of her seat on Heung Yee Kuk chairman and Liberal Party member Lau Wong-fat for canvassing for the DAB during the elections. Former chairman Allen Lee said that the party was now "doomed" following their poll defeat because of a succession crisis and lack of funding.
On 9 October 2008, three councillors, Jeffrey Lam, Sophie Leung, and Andrew Leung, resigned from the party, citing internal party disagreements. Lam had been angling for the party leadership since Tien's resignation, with support from Sophie Leung and Andrew Leung. These resignations, along with the resignation of Heung, reduced the Liberal Party from seven Legco councillors to three. The resigned four later formed Economic Synergy, which merged into the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong today. Miriam Lau became chairman of the party. In 2009, James Tien backed to serve as honour chairman of Liberal Party.
The party performed badly again in the 2012 Hong Kong legislative election, this time securing only 2.64 percent of the popular vote and gaining five seats in Legco (one in a geographical constituency and four in functional constituencies), its lowest ever election showing. Miriam Lau, who lost her seat, resigned as chairman. Following a three-month period with Vincent Fang Kang as acting chairman, on 15 December 2012, Selina Chow was elected chairperson, unopposed. James Tien and Miriam Lau continued to serve as honorary chairpersons, while Fang and Felix Chung became deputy chairmen. It was also stated that a new party leader post would be created, along with three vice-chairmen to groom successors.
Legislative Council elections
| % of
District Council elections
| % of
- Allen Lee (1993–1998)
- James Tien (1998–2008)
- Miriam Lau (2008–2012)
- Vincent Fang Kang (acting, Sept–Dec 2012)
- Selina Chow (from Dec 2012)
In 2013, a new post "party leader" was created. Former party chairman James Tien was elected as the first party leader. Tien had been the honour chairman of Liberal Party from 2009 to 2013, so actually he still the de facto leader of Liberal Party.
- James Tien (from May 2013)
- Horlemann, Ralf (2013). Hong Kong's Transition to Chinese Rule: The Limits of Autonomy. Routledge. p. 48.
- Gary Cheung, Ambrose Leung & Fanny Fung, "Liberals doomed, says founding chief", 11 September 2008, Page A1, South China Morning Post
- Ambrose Leung & Fanny Fung, "Heung Yee Kuk chairman quits Liberal Party", 12 September 2008, Page A2, South China Morning Post
- Bonnie Chen, "Chaos as Liberal trio revolts", 9 October 2008 The Standard
- Liberal Party picks acting chairman, SCMP, City Digest, 18 September 2012
- Chow new chairperson of Liberal Party, RTHK News, 15 Dec 2012, Accessed 15 Dec 2012
- Liberal Party official site (Click 'English' in the top right-hand corner for the English version)