League of Social Democrats
|Founded||1 October 2006|
|Headquarters||Flat B2, 4/F, Tai Cheong|
3 Wing Ming Street,
Cheung Sha Wan,
|Political position||Centre-left to left-wing|
|Regional affiliation||Pro-democracy camp|
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|League of Social Democrats|
Politics and government|
of Hong Kong
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The League of Social Democrats (LSD) is a social democratic party in Hong Kong. Chaired by Chan Po-ying, wife of Leung Kwok-hung, it positions itself as the radical wing of the pro-democracy camp and stresses on "street actions" and "parliamentary struggles". It currently holds two seats in the District Councils.
Established in 2006 by a group of pro-grassroots left-leaning activists, the party opposes the perceived moderate and compromising approach of its pro-democratic allies Democratic Party and Civic Party and called for more aggressive tactics to achieve democracy. It often found itself at odds with other pan-democrats due to its confrontational and radical activism in the Legislative Council. The party first participated in the 2008 Legislative Council election and won over the 10 per cent of the popular vote and emerged as the new force with three seats.
In 2010, the League launched the "Five Constituencies Referendum" campaign to pressure the government to implement universal suffrage no later than 2012. The plan was joined by the Civics but rejected by the Democrats. The plan to target the Democratic Party in the following District Council election, as well as personal differences, led to a devastating factional struggles between the founding chairman Wong Yuk-man and his successor Andrew To, which resulted in the Wong's faction splitting from the party to form the People Power, leaving the party with only one legislator Leung Kwok-hung.
The party suffered a sharp decline in the 2012 Legislative Council election but resumed a cooperative relationship with the People Power in the issues such as filibustering in the legislature and street activisms. Facing the rise of localism, the two parties formed an electoral coalition in the 2016 Legislative Council election which received seven per cent of the vote with Leung Kwok-hung being re-elected. Leung was subsequently disqualified over his oath-taking manner in 2017, leaving the party without any elected representation.
In the massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, its party member Jimmy Sham, who was also the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), won one of two seats for the party in the following District Council election, and also won the nomination in the 2020 pro-democracy primaries where Leung Kwok-hung failed to secure a nomination.
The LSD was considered to be the "radical wing" of the pro-democracy camp by its political beliefs and tactics. It was formed by legislators, social activists and grassroots residents. It aims to be a "clear-cut opposition party" and defend the interests of the grassroots. It opposes the wealth inequality created by collusions between the government and corporations. It positions itself as a social democratic party and believes that a just society can be achieved by redistribution of wealth, economic intervention and direct democracy.
Members of the party pioneered the use of theatrics and disruptive tactics in Hong Kong. Heckling and the throwing of projectiles have since become a frequent occurrence at Legislative Council and public meetings. Their members have been ejected from LegCo meetings on numerous occasions. At a Legislative council meeting on 15 October 2008, during the Policy Address given by then Chief Executive Donald Tsang, party chairman Wong Yuk-man threw a banana at Tsang in protest at the means test of "fruit money" (Old Age Allowance) for the elderly.
At the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of History on 2 March 2011, Steve Wong Chun-kit, member of the League of Social Democrats rushed at Donald Tsang. Protesters also threw cooked rice at Tsang, as a symbol of the plight of the poor, but missed him. Tsang said his chest was hit by the protestor and had a medical check at the Queen Mary Hospital afterwards. Tsang denounced the protest, saying that violence was unacceptable in Hong Kong, where civilised behaviour and the rule of law were fundamental values. However Leung Kwok-hung said he did not see any physical contact between Tsang and protesters. Steve Wong was arrested and released on bail.
Leung Kwok-hung threw a cloud-shaped cushion at Financial Secretary John Tsang during his budget report in the Legislative Council on 27 February 2013 to demand for a universal retirement protection scheme.
In May 2012, Leung Kwok-hung, the only LSD member in the Legislative Council joined a weeks-long filibuster staged by Albert Chan and Wong Yuk-man, who were LSD legislators but defected to the People Power, submitting 1306 amendments altogether to the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012, by which the government attempted to forbid resigning lawmakers from participating in by-elections as the government's response to the "Five Constituency Referendum movement" launched by the LSD in 2010. On the morning of 17 May 2012, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, President of the Legislative Council adopt Article 92 of the Standing Order, which allows the president follow foreign parliament rules for unregulated behaviours to terminate the debate. In the end, all amendments were defeated and the Bill was passed.
In May 2013, the LSD and People Power staged a month-long filibuster by moving a total of 710 amendments on the Budget Appropriation Bill debate, to press for a universal pension scheme and a HK$10,000 cash handout to be included in John Tsang's budget. The government warned that the service would shut down if the budget bill do not pass. Jasper Tsang ordered to end the filibuster on 13 May after 55 hours spent to debate 17 of the 148 amendments. The Appropriation Bill was passed on 21 May 2013 with 684 amendments negatived.
Founding and early years (2006–2010)
The LSD was founded on 1 October 2006. The two Legislative Councillors, Leung Kwok-hung, activist from the April Fifth Action Group, and Albert Chan, former Democratic Party member, were the founding members. Radio host, author and former journalism professor Wong Yuk-man became the first Chairman of the party.
In the participation in the 2007 Chief Executive Election of Alan Leong, the League of Social Democrats refused to co-operate with the Democratic Party and the Civic Party and criticised the two parties for nominating Leong as Chief Executive candidate, saying that they are not qualified as democrats. In the 2006 Election Committee election, the League was criticised by media for refusing to name a candidate in protest at the "small-circle election".
The LSD won six seats its first attempt in the election in the 2007 District Council elections. In late December 2007, the Vice-Chairman of the party, Lo Wing-lok, resigned after a controversy over the lack of documentation on the lease of the party headquarters. According to Lo, the premises belonged to an alleged triad member who claimed to be a merchant.
In the 2008 LegCo elections, the party emerged as the sixth largest party in the legislature by gaining over 10 percent of the vote and winning total of three seats with chairman Wong Yuk-man winning a seat in the Kowloon West geographical constituency and Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan retained their seats respectively. The LSD fiercely criticised the other democratic parties during the campaign. In Kowloon East Andrew To Kwan-hang has accused the Democratic Party of wrongly backing the government's move to privatise the Link Reit Investment Trust, thus paving the way for hefty rent rises in public housing commercial and parking facilities. In Kowloon West, Chairman Wong Yuk-man lambasted the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching in the same way he did the candidates from the pro-Beijing, pro-government flagship party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), accusing the Civic Party of applying double standards in its fight for democracy, and being elitist.
2010 electoral reform and splits (2010–2016)
The party was member of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage which consisted of all the pro-democracy groups to strive for the 2012 universal suffrage of the Chief Executive and Legislative Council. In response to the electoral reform package proposed by the government, the party joined hand with the Civic Party to launch the "Five Constituency Referendum" by having five legislators resigning and participating in a territory-wide by-election to demand genuine universal suffrage. The claim of by-election as referendum expectedly received serve attacks from the Beijing government and the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong as unconstitutional. The Democratic Party refused to join the movement and sought for a less confrontational way to negotiate with Beijing. The movement was considered as failure with only 17.7 percent of the registered voters voted despite all three LSD legislators successfully returned to the LegCo. The LSD strongly criticised the Democratic Party for its move to negotiate with Beijing and voted for the reform package and attacked the Democratic Party in the following 2010 July 1 march.
The party was also heavily devastated from the intra-party struggles. The former chairman Wong Yuk-man disagreed with the policies of the incumbent chairman Andrew To including the ways of dealing with the Democratic Party. In November 2010, Wong Yuk-man's protege Edward Yum led a no-confidence motion against To which was defeated by 111 to 170 at an extraordinary general party meeting. After the failure of toppling To's chairmanship, on 24 January 2011, two of the three legislators of the party, Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan quit the party with many party's leading figures, citing disagreement with leader Andrew To and his faction. About two hundreds of their supporters joined them, leaving the LSD in disarray. Wong and Chan formed the People Power with other defected members and radical groups which aimed at sniping Democratic Party in the upcoming 2011 District Council elections.
The party lost all its seats in the District Councils in the District Council elections in November, all four of the party's seats were swept by the pro-Beijing candidates, including that of Andrew To for Chuk Yuen North constituency. 23 other League candidates also failed to win. Two days later, Andrew To resigned as chairman, to take responsibility for the loss, but pledged not to alter the LSD's ideology for the sake of winning elections. Leung Kwok-hung replaced To as the Chairman of the LSD.
Ousted from Legislative Council and further political developments (2016–present)
In the 2016 Legislative Council election, the LSD formed an electoral alliance with another radical democrat People Power as they were facing serious challenges from the newly emerging radical localists. The alliance won two seats in total with sole League legislator Leung Kwok-hung and People Power's Ray Chan being re-elected in the New Territories East. Former LSD legislator Albert Chan failed to help LSD's Raphael Wong to be elected despite him standing as a second candidate in the New Territories West. LSD chairman Avery Ng also lost his bid in Kowloon West.
In the 2017 Chief Executive election, LSD legislator Leung Kwok-hung launched his Chief Executive bid in February 2017 through a "public nomination" mechanism, in which he would seek to secure 37,790 votes from members of the public, one per cent of the city's registered voters before he would canvass for the nominations from the Election Committee. Leung dropped out from the race on 25 February after failed to gain enough nominations from the public, secured only 20,234 nominations.
In July 2017, Leung Kwok-hung was unseated with three other pro-democracy legislators due to their manners at the oath-taking ceremony at the inaugural meeting, where Leung had used it as a platform to protest since he was first elected in 2004, which made the LSD lost its only seat in the legislature.
In 2019, in the aftermath of the massive Hong Kong pro-democracy protests two prominent members of LSD namely, political and LGBT activist Jimmy Sham and Citizens' Radio founder Tsang Kin-shing were elected in the 2019 District Council elections as part of the electoral landslide by the pro-democracy camp. In spite of this, Leung Kwok-hung was narrowly defeated in his bid to unseat incumbent lawmaker Starry Lee in the To Kwa Wan North in the Kowloon City District Council.
Chan Po-ying, Leung Kwok-hung's wife, was elected as the LSD's new chairperson during a special meeting on 25 July 2021, replacing Raphael Wong. Dickson Chau was also elected as vice chairman (external affairs), replacing Leung Kwok-hung, who was jailed for his role in the 2019 protests.
Arrest of Leung Kwok-hung and Jimmy Sham under national security law
On 6 January 2021, vice-chair persons of the party Leung Kwok-hung and Jimmy Sham were arrested for violation of the national security law. They were released on bail the next day but charged with subversion on 28 February 2021. As of 12 March 2021, both Leung and Sham remain in custody after being denied bail twice and will be in prison until their next hearing on the case on 31 May 2021. On 31 May, the court postponed further court proceedings until 8 July 2021. Both Leung and Sham (along with the rest of defendants) will be presented with evidence before 28 June and they will be able to enter a plea. Otherwise, their case will be referred to the High Court.
Boycott of 2021 legislative election
On 1 June 2021, the party's leader Raphael Wong announced that the party will not participate in the upcoming legislative election after accusing the Chinese Communist Party of "wiping out dissidents". The move comes after the party is almost decimated after the arrests of Leung Kwok-hung, Jimmy Sham and Avery Ng.
Performance in elections
Chief Executive elections
|Election||Candidate||# of votes||% of vote|
|2017||Leung Kwok-hung||Not nominated|
Legislative Council elections
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District Council elections
6 / 405
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- Wong Yuk-man, 2006–2010
- Andrew To Kwan-hang, 2010–2011
- Tang Chui-chung, acting 2011–2012
- Leung Kwok-hung, 2012–2016
- Avery Ng Man-yuen, 2016–2020
- Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 2020–2021
- Chan Po-ying, 2021–present
Vice-chairpersons (External Affairs)
- Lo Wing-lok, 2006–2007
- Andrew To Kwan-hang, 2008–2010
- Avery Ng Man-yuen, 2012–2016
- Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 2016–2020
- Leung Kwok-hung, 2020–2021
- Dickson Chau Ka-faat, 2021–present
Vice-chairpersons (Internal Affairs)
- Michael Mak Kwok-fung, 2006–2010
- Lee Wai-yee, 2008–2010
- Avery Ng Man-yuen, 2010–2012
- Tang Chui-chung, 2012–2014
- Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 2014–2016
- Derek Chan Tak-cheung, 2016
- Jaco Chow Nok-hang, 2018–2020
- Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, 2020–present
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- "About Us" 關於社民連. League of Social Democrats (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Mok, Danny; Chong, Tanna (3 March 2011). "Outrage after protester attacks Donald Tsang at gallery". South China Morning Post.
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- McBain, Sophie (10 December 2013). "How Lufsig the cuddly wolf became a Hong Kong protest symbol – A short lesson in the art of mistranslating names into Chinese". The New Statesman.
- "Filibustering continues over budget". RTHK. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Lai, Ying-kit (13 May 2013). "Legco president Jasper Tsang orders end to budget bill filibuster". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- LegCo Reporter Council Meeting 2012–2013 Issue No. 28 (21 May 2013)
- 社民連與民主公民兩黨割席. Sing Pao (in Chinese). 24 November 2006. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
- "RTHK Online News". Rthk.org.hk. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- Yeung, Chris (3 September 2008). "Infighting threatens pro-democracy camp". South China Morning Post.
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- Pepper, Suzanne (24 January 2011). "PARTY LINE UPDATES: Democrats in Disarray".
- 黃毓民倒戈 社民連分裂伙陳偉業牽頭退黨 長毛未有決定. Mingpao (in Chinese). 24 January 2011.
- "League on verge of collapse as heavyweights lead party exodus". South China Morning Post. 24 January 2011.
- 600支持者出席集思會 黃毓民、陳偉業率200人退出社民連. Apple Daily (in Chinese). 24 January 2011.
- "League head quits after poll disaster". Radio Television Hong Kong. 8 November 2011.
- "吳文遠任社民連主席". Apple Daily. 22 February 2016.
- "'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung enters chief executive race, urging allies not to vote for 'lesser evils'". South China Morning Post. 8 February 2017.
- "【特首選戰】長毛宣佈不參選：2萬人撐證公民提名可行". Apple Daily. 25 February 2017.
- "Four More Hong Kong Lawmakers Ousted In a Blow to Democratic Hopes". TIME. 17 July 2017.
- "Early results suggest landslide win for pan-dems". RTHK. 25 November 2019.
- "Chan Po-ying elected new chair of LSD - RTHK". news.rthk.hk. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
- "Chan Po-ying elected to head Hong Kong's pro-democracy League of Social Democrats". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 26 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
- "Hong Kong arrests dozens of pro-democracy activists". The Economist. 9 January 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- "Hong Kong charges 47 activists in largest use yet of new security law". BBC News. 1 March 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- Wong, Brian (12 March 2021). "National security law: bail denied again for 11 of the 47 Hong Kong opposition figures charged with subversion; 10 others withdraw bids at last minute". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
- Pang, Jessie (3 June 2021). "Court case of 47 Hong Kong democracy activists to resume on July 8". Reuters. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
- "League of Social Democrats to boycott upcoming polls". RTHK. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Chau, Candice (1 June 2021). "Pro-democracy party says it won't take part in Hong Kong elections following overhaul ordered by Beijing". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
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