Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong

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Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong
Abbreviation DAB
Chairman Starry Lee
Vice-Chairmen Horace Cheung
Thomas Pang
Chan Yung
Gary Chan
Holden Chow
Founded 10 July 1992
Merger of HKPA
Headquarters 15/F, SUP Tower,
83 King's Road,
North Point, Hong Kong
Youth wing Young DAB
Membership  (2016) Increase 29,006[1]
Ideology Chinese nationalism
Political position Centre to centre-right
Regional affiliation Pro-Beijing camp
Colours           Blue and red
Executive Council
4 / 31
Legislative Council
13 / 70
District Councils
117 / 458
7 / 36
25 / 124
Politics of Hong Kong
Political parties
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese 民主建港協進聯盟
(Short: 民建聯)
Simplified Chinese 民主建港协进联盟
(Short: 民建联)
Former name
Traditional Chinese 民主建港聯盟
Simplified Chinese 民主建港联盟
Politics and government
of Hong Kong
Foreign relations
Related topics Hong Kong portal

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (Chinese: 民主建港協進聯盟, DAB) is the largest political party in Hong Kong, having 13 seats in the Legislative Council and 117 seats in the District Councils.

The party was founded on 10 July 1992 by 56 Beijing loyalists with a long-history of following the Communist government in Beijing as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (民主建港聯盟) under the guidance of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office as the reaction to the rise of the pro-democracy party United Democrats of Hong Kong after 1991 Legislative Council election. It has become the flagship pro-Beijing party since its creation and one of the three largest parties with the pro-business Liberal Party and pro-democracy Democratic Party.

Since the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese sovereignty, it became the major force backing the SAR government. It suffered a major defeat in the 2003 District Council election, due to its full support to the unpopular Tung Chee-hwa's administration and the legislation of the Basic Law Article 23. Its founding Chairman, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing resigned after the election and later became the first partisan Legislative Council President in 2008. In 2004 Legislative Council election, it replaced the Democratic Party as the largest party in the legislature.

Its changed to its current name when it absorbed the pro-business Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) in 2005. Tam Yiu-chung succeeded Ma Lik who died of cancer in 2007. In the 2007 District Council election, the DAB received a major victory, becoming the largest party in the district level far ahead of other parties. The party received further successes in the 2011 District Council election and 2012 Legislative Council election.

In 2015, Starry Lee Wai-king succeeded Tam Yiu-chung, becoming the first chairwoman in party history.

Party beliefs[edit]

The party is known for a Beijing loyalist party of "loving China and loving Hong Kong". It stresses the "one country" part of the "One country, two systems" principle. As for issues on democratic reform, it takes a position to support slower pace in relative to what the Democratic Party supports, DAB claims by doing so stability and prosperity will be achieved. It also self-claims itself as being "rational and pragmatic".[2]

The party's main claim is that it is natural for ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong to be "patriotic" and support the government of the People's Republic of China.[3] The party supports nearly every policy of the HKSAR Government.

  • Furthering co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland, promoting mutual trust, and creating opportunities economically.
  • "Constructive monitor" of the HKSAR government, scrutinising various government policies and decisions, providing "constructive policy alternatives" whilst securing the progress, prosperity, social stability and harmony for Hong Kong.
  • To break down social barriers based on the common interest of Hong Kong; to strengthen communications with Hong Kong residents to better reflect their opinion; to be more accountable to the public.
  • To nurture political talent by committing the necessary funding, organising training, providing opportunities for those who want to take part in politics.

The DAB’s support of social welfare improvements, including greater spending on education, housing, and employee retraining, has given it strong grassroots support.[4]

The party in general embraces big tent position, but has gradually leaned to a more pro-middle-class position and professional-oriented since its merger with the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) in 2005.


Founding and the eve of reunification (1992–1996)[edit]

The DAB was founded on 10 July 1992 as the first major pro-Beijing party as a part of the PRC United Front strategy on the eve of the handover of Hong Kong. In January 1992, Lu Ping, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, publicly urged the territory's pro-Beijing bodies to organise themselves into political parties to gear up for the 1994/95 three-tier elections.[5]

56 founding members of the DAB included the local loyalists of the Chinese Communist regime, so called traditional "leftists", such as leaders from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) which launched the anti-British riots in 1967,[6] such as Tam Yiu-chung who was the general secretary of the FTU, as well as Chan Yuen-han, and also the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (FEW),[7] such as Jasper Tsang Yok-sing who was the principal of the local Communist-controlled school Pui Kiu Middle School and a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate and had participated in the 1967 riots, and also school teacher Gary Cheng Kai-nam.[5] Jasper Tsang and Tam Yiu-chung became the first chairman and Vice-Chairman of the party.[8]

The DAB became the direct rival to the major pro-democracy party Democratic Party which was formed in 1994. Its first major contest was the 1994 District Board elections, in which 37 of the 83 members were elected.[9] It participated in the municipal elections in the following year, winning 8 directly elected and 2 indirectly elected seats.[10] Major leaders of the DAB participated in the 1995 Legislative Council election. It was regarded as test cases of the popularity of the new party.[11] Three of the four party leaders were defeated by pro-democracy candidates in the election,[12] including party chairman Jasper Tsang who lost to Bruce Liu Sing-lee of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL )in the Kowloon Central constituency.

Provisional Legislative Council and early Tung Chee-hwa era (1996–2002)[edit]

The DAB took part in the preparatory works for establishing the Special Administrative Region on the eve of the handover of Hong Kong. In January 1996, Jasper Tsang, Tam Yiu-chung, founding members Ng Hong-mun and Lee Cho-jat were appointed to the Preparatory Committee. It had 46 members elected to the Beijing-controlled Selection Committee in November 1996. In the following month, the Selection Committee elected 10 DAB members to the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC).[13] The DAB and the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA), another pro-Beijing party, allied with each other in the crucial Provisional Legislative Council debate on the substantial arrangements for the 1998 LegCo elections. This move was tacitly endorsed by the Heung Yee Kuk, and heralded as the unofficial merger of the parties.[14] The Provisional Legislative Council, which was controlled by the pro-Beijing camp, vetoed the democratic reform introduced by the last British governor Chris Patten and replaced the first-past-the-post with the proportional representation method in the Legislative Council elections, so that the weaker DAB would be able to exploit the benefit of the proportional representation by taking a seat in every geographical constituency without having a majority of the votes. After the SAR was established, Tam Yiu-chung and was also appointed to the Executive Council by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa as the representative of the party.

The DAB's electoral campaigns have been largely assisted by Beijing and its united front organs. The Liaison Office would mobilise various social groups and organisations to campaign for and to vote for the party, including employees of PRC state-owned companies and grassroots organisations such as the New Territories Association of Societies (NTAS) and the Kowloon Federation of Associations (KFA) The DAB's sister organisation FTU also mobilised its workers to campaign for the DAB members. The FTU also sent a recommendation letter to its four hundred thousand members to seek support for DAB candidates.[15] As a result, the DAB has been performing well in the elections. In the 1998 LegCo elections, the DAB took five directly elected seats by taking a quarter of the votes, compared to only two seats with 15% of the votes in the 1995 elections.[16] In December 1998, the party's 5th Central Committee decided to increase a Vice-Chairmanship, Ip Kwok-him and Cheng Kai-nam were subsequently elected as Vice-Chairmen.[17] In the first District Council elections in November 1999, the party filled in 176 candidates, 83 of which were elected, more than double compared to the 1994 elections.[18]

In the second SAR LegCo elections in September 2000, despite the conflict of interests scandal of Gary Cheng, the DAB became a clear winner, capturing 11 seats in total, 7 in geographical constituency direct elections, 3 in functional constituencies and 1 Election Committee constituency. Although Gary Cheng was elected, he soon resigned his party posts and LegCo seat under public pressure. After DAB candidate Christopher Chung Shu-kun losing to pro-democracy Independent Audrey Eu Yuet-mee in the 10 December Hong Kong Island by-election, the DAB commanded 10 LegCo seats by the end of 2000.

Article 23 setbacks (2002–2004)[edit]

In July 2002 the beginning of the second term of Tung Chee-hwa's administration, Chairman Jasper Tsang was appointed to the Executive Council under the Principal Officials Accountability System (POAS), succeeding Tam Yiu-chung. However the governing coalition between Tung Chee-hwa the DAB and the pro-business Liberal Party suffered from growing disunity as the popularity of Tung administration dropped. Although it continued provide stable support to the government as Beijing's demand, it paid a hefty political price in the sense of increasing middle-class disaffection with the party and growing rank-and file complaint. The DAB was increasingly frustrated by unequal political exchange with the government and the skimpy political rewards meted out by Tung. Jasper Tsang even openly aired his displeasure and advocated power sharing with the government.[19]

In the wake of the controversies over the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law, which outlaws treason, sedition, subversion and secession against the central government, the image of DAB was severely undermined by its unconditional support and defence of the legislation. The November 2003 District Councils elections saw the worst electoral performance in party's history, only 62 of the 206 candidates were elected. The party vice-chairman and LegCo member Ip Kwok-him was defeated in his own power base and long-time headquarter Kwun Lung by the pro-democracy The Frontier member and LegCo member Cyd Ho Sau-lan by a narrow margin of 64 votes.[20] The election results led to the resignation of chairman Jasper Tsang.[21] Tsang claimed that the electoral setback was due to the DAB's "Tung loyalist" public image. In December the party's Standing Committee elected Ma Lik as Tsang's successor.[22]

2004 LegCo election and merge with Progressive Alliance (2004–2007)[edit]

The 2004 LegCo electoral campaign unfolded amid an economic rebound partly engineered by Beijing's up-lifting measures. The PRC athletes' impressive gains in the August 2004 Athens Olympics and the 50 Chinese Gold Medalists' visit to Hong Kong right before the polling induced among the voters a strong nationalistic pride that was beneficial to DAB candidates.[23] The DAB also managed to exploit the proportional representation to equalise votes for two of the candidates the party endorsed standing in the same constituency. Although support of Chan Yuen-han (FTU) was far higher than Chan Kam-lam (DAB) in Kowloon East, according to earlier polls, the two organisations managed to have both elected. At Hong Kong Island constituency, the ticket of Ma Lik and Choy So-yuk ultimately benefitted from a democratic camp mix-up that led to the resignation of the Democratic Party Chairman, Yeung Sum. The DAB become the largest political party in the Legislative Council to be represented with 12 seats (if including the two members ran under the FTU banner), with the pro-business Liberal Party coming second with 10 seats and the Democratic Party coming third with 9 seats.

On 16 February 2005 the DAB merged with the more business-oriented Hong Kong Progressive Alliance and added "progress" its name and became the "Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong". The two parties were merged with new committees and leadership in May, Ma Lik was re-elected as chairman and Ip Kwok-him, Tam Yiu-chung, Maria Tam Wai-chu and Lau Kong-wah as Vice-Chairmen. Since the merge with the Progressive Alliance, the DAB has gradually leaned to a more pro-middle-class position. In April 2007 leadership election, solicitor Gregory So Kam-leung succeeded Maria Tam as the Vice-Chairman of the party. The four new Standing Committee members were all professionals; besides Gregory So, Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, the Chairman of the Young DAB was a solicitor, Starry Lee Wai-king was an accountant, Ben Chan Han-pan was an engineer.[24] Meanwhile, the pro-labour and pro-grassroots FTU faction began to run in elections in their own banner. On 8 August 2007, Chairman Ma Lik died of cancer in Guangzhou. Tam Yiu-chung was elected as the new chairman by the Standing Committee on 28 August.[25]

Recent development (2007–present)[edit]

The District Council Elections in 2007 saw the great bounce back of the DAB by winning 115 seats, more than a quarter of the seats in the district level, far ahead of other political parties. Gregory So resigned as the vice-chairman and was succeeded by Ann Chiang Lai-wan when he was appointed as the Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development by Chief Executive Donald Tsang in May 2008,[26] among other DAB members appointed to the government. Gregory So was later revealed his Canadian citizenship by the media. He had to renounce his citizenship as a result.[27] The scandal became an electoral issue in the following 2008 LegCo Election that the pan-democracy camp used to attack the DAB candidates. Nevertheless, the DAB remained as the largest party in the Legislative Council in the election, winning 13 seats in total (if including the FTU candidates who had DAB membership). Chan Yuen-han and Wong Kwok-hing were founding members of the DAB and used to run for the DAB, they began to run under the FTU banner with more pro-labour position. In October, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, the founding Chairman of the DAB, was elected as the President of the Legislative Council, becoming the first LegCo President with party membership. His seat at the Executive Council was succeeded by vice-chairman Lau Kong-wah.

In the 2011 District Council Elections, the DAB recorded a greatest victory in party's history, accumulating 136 seats, about one-third of the total, more than all pro-democratic parties combined. The DAB supported Leung Chun-ying in the 2012 Chief Executive election. In the Legislative Council elections in September, with the party's first use of the electoral tactics of splitting candidate lists, the DAB won three seats in the New Territories West for the first time and two seats Hong Kong Island since 2004. It continued as the largest political force supporting the SAR administration today.

On 17 April 2015, Starry Lee Wai-king became the first woman to chair the party, succeeding the outgoing Tam Yiu-chung.[28]

In the 2015 District Council election, the DAB retained its largest party status by winning 119 seats, although incumbent legislators Christopher Chung Shu-kun and Elizabeth Quat were ousted by newcomers.


As the largest political party of Hong Kong, the party can be divided into several main factions:[citation needed]


Claim of no Tiananmen massacre[edit]

On 15 May 2007, party leader Ma Lik provoked widespread condemnation within the local community when he claimed that "there was not a massacre" during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, as there was "no intentional and indiscriminate shooting". He said the popular belief of foreigners' "rash claims" that a massacre took place showed Hong Kong's lack of maturity. He said that Hong Kong showed, through this lack of patriotism and national identity, that it would thus "not be ready for democracy until 2022".[29]

Vice-Chairman Tam Yiu-chung defended Ma, but questioned the timing: "people will understand it gradually".[29] However, Vice-Chairman Lau Kong-wah, immediately offered to apologise, and distanced the party from Ma, saying that Ma had expressed "a personal opinion".[30] The DAB Central committee declined any further action against Ma following their meeting, and there was no official apology.

Allegations of irregularities[edit]

The DAB has been accused by pro-democracy media and politicians of providing benefits to certain people, including seafood meals and local trips to outlying islands at prices significantly lower than market rates to win their support. Other allegations include free transport to mobilise people for their cause. However, none of these practices are strictly illegal in Hong Kong.

Election performances[edit]

Legislative Council elections[edit]

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
Total seats +/− Position
1995 142,801Steady 15.66Steady 2 2 2
6 / 60
5Increase 3rdSteady
1998 373,428Increase 25.23Increase 5 2 2
9 / 60
2000 391,718Increase 29.43Increase 8 3 1
12 / 60
3Increase 2ndSteady
2004 454,827Increase 25.49Decrease 9 3
12 / 60
1Increase 1stIncrease
2008 433,684Decrease 28.45Increase 9 4
13 / 60
2Increase 1stSteady
2012 366,140Decrease 20.22Decrease 9 4
13 / 70
3Increase 1stSteady

Municipal elections[edit]

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
elected seats
1995 90,548Steady 16.24Steady
5 / 32
3 / 27
8 / 59

District Councils elections[edit]

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
elected seats
1994 82,197Steady 11.97Steady
38 / 346
1999 190,792Increase 23.53Increase
83 / 390
2003 241,202Increase 22.94Decrease
62 / 400
2007 292,916Increase 25.73Increase
115 / 405
2011 282,119Decrease 23.89Decrease
136 / 412
2015 309,262Increase 21.39Decrease
119 / 431



Portrait Constituency Took Office Left Office
1 Tsang Yok-sing
(born 1947)
Tsang Yok Sing Photo.JPG Kowloon West 10 July 1992 3 December 2003
2 Ma Lik
Blanksvg.svg Hong Kong Island 9 December 2003 8 August 2007[n 1]
3 Tam Yiu-chung
(born 1949)
Tam Yau Chung.jpg New Territories West 28 August 2007 17 April 2015
4 Starry Lee
(born 1974)
IMG 8968 c.jpg District Council (Second) 17 April 2015 Incumbent
  1. ^ Died in office, Tam Yiu-chung served as acting chair between 28 August to 3 September 2007.


Secretaries general[edit]


  • Wong Kine-yuen, 1992–present

Deputy secretaries general[edit]

  • Tso Wong Man-yin, 2005–2009
  • Albert Wong Shun-yee, 2009–2011
  • Chan Hok-fung, 2011–2013
  • Chris Ip Ngo-tung, 2013–present

Senate chairmen[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Basic Info". The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  2. ^ Cheung, Tony (8 February 2015). "Outgoing DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung looks to a new generation". South China Morning Post. 
  3. ^ Chan, Ming K. So, Alvin Y. White, Lynn T. Crisis and Transformation in China's Hong Kong. [2002] (2002). M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1000-0.
  4. ^ Rioni, S. G., ed. (2002). Hong Kong in Focus: Political and Economic Issues. Nova Publishers. p. 24. 
  5. ^ a b Cheng, Joseph Yu-shek; Brosseau, Maurice (1993). China Review 1993. Chinese University Press. p. 10.8. 
  6. ^ Lam, Wai-man; Lui, Percy Luen-tim; Wong, Wilson, eds. (2012). Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics. Hong Kong University Press. p. 161. 
  7. ^ Kwong, Paul C. K. (1992). Cheng, J. Y. S., ed. The Other Hong Kong Report 1992. Chinese University Press. p. xxi. 
  8. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1992". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  9. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1994". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  10. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1995". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  11. ^ Mee, Kau Nyaw; Li, Si-ming, eds. (1996). The Other Hong Kong Report 1996. Chinese University Press. p. 55. 
  12. ^ The Other Hong Kong Report 1996, p. 38.
  13. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1996". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  14. ^ Ho, Andy (30 September 1997). "The old pack reshuffled". The Standard. Retrieved 23 July 2008. 
  15. ^ Schafferer, Christian (2005). Understanding Modern East Asian Politics. Nova Publishers. p. 106. 
  16. ^ Kuan, Hsin-chi, ed. (1999). Power Transfer and Electoral Politics: The First Legislative Election in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Chinese University Press. p. 131. 
  17. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1998". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  18. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1999". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  19. ^ Liu, Zhaojia; Lau, Siu-kai (2002). The First Tung Chee-hwa Administration: The First Five Years of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Chinese University Press. p. 29. 
  20. ^ Kwong, Bruce Kam (2009). Patron-Client Politics and Elections in Hong Kong. Routledge. p. 101. 
  21. ^ Cannix Yau, "DAB chief resigns over 'worst setback'", The Standard, 25 November 2003
  22. ^ "認識我們>歷史>2003". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  23. ^ Kuah, Khun Eng; Guiheux, Gilles, eds. (2009). Social Movements in China and Hong Kong: The Expansion of Protest Space. Amsterdam University Press. p. 191. 
  24. ^ "民建聯新班子 突顯年輕專業". Wen Wei Po. 25 April 2007. 
  25. ^ "關於我們 > 歷史 > 大事年表 > 2007". The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  26. ^ "CE appoints Under Secretaries (with photos)". Hong Kong Information Services Department. 20 May 2008. 
  27. ^ Ewing, Kent (3 June 2008). "Hong Kong deputies disappoint". Asia Times. 
  28. ^ "民 建 聯 領 導 層 改 選   李 慧 琼 當 選 主 席". RTHK. 17 April 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Ambrose Leung, "Fury at DAB chief's Tiananmen tirade", Page 1, South China Morning Post, 16 May 2007
  30. ^ 「馬力認輕佻拒撤觀點,否認促為六四定調 願受黨處分」, Ming Pao, 7 May 2007 (Chinese)

External links[edit]