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
Chairperson Starry Lee
Vice-Chairpersons Horace Cheung
Thomas Pang
Chan Yung
Gary Chan
Holden Chow
Founded 10 July 1992
Merger of Progressive Alliance
Headquarters 15/F, SUP Tower,
83 King's Road,
North Point, Hong
Youth wing Young DAB
Membership (2017) Increase 34,987[1]
Ideology Chinese nationalism
Conservatism (HK)
Social conservatism[2]
Political position Centre-right
Regional affiliation Pro-Beijing camp
Colours           Blue and red
Executive Council
3 / 33
Legislative Council
12 / 70
District Councils
117 / 458
NPC (HK deputies)
7 / 36
CPPCC (HK members)
25 / 124
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)
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong
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 SAR Regional Emblem.svg Hong Kong portal

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (Chinese: 民主建港協進聯盟; abbreviated DAB) is a pro-Beijing conservative political party established in 1992 in Hong Kong. Chaired by Starry Lee, it is currently the largest party in the Legislative Council and the District Councils, commanding 12 seats and 117 seats respectively.

The DAB was founded in 1992 by 56 Beijing-loyalists from a traditional leftists background, who had a long-history of following the policies of the Communist Party of China, the ruling party in the People's Republic of China. It gradually expanded in the early years after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong and became one of three major parties alongside the pro-democratic Democratic Party and the pro-business Liberal Party.

In 2003, it supported the Hong Kong government's proposal to locally implement Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law and suffered a major defeat in the 2003 District Council election. The DAB benefited from the failure of the pro-democrats' electoral strategy in the 2004 Legislative Council election, taking over the Democratic Party as the largest party in the legislature. In 2005, it absorbed the pro-business professional-oriented Hong Kong Progressive Alliance.

It continued to expand in the recent years, scoring electoral victories in the 2007, 2011 and 2015 District Council elections and 2008 and 2012 Legislative Council elections. The DAB received the largest victory by taking 13 seats in the 2012 election. In the 2016 election, the party took 12 seats in total, one seat fewer than the previous election.


The DAB is known as a Beijing loyalist party of "loving China and loving Hong Kong".[3][not in citation given] 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. Former party chairman Tam Yiu-chung claims the DAB to be "rational and pragmatic".[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.

The party also takes the social conservative stance, espousing 'traditional family values' and opposing same-sex marriage despite it not being in the party's official platform.[2]


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.[citation needed] 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.[7]

56 founding members of the DAB included local supporters of the Communist Party of China, often referred to as "traditional leftists". The members included leaders from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) which launched the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots in 1967,[8] such as Tam Yiu-chung who was the general secretary of the FTU and Chan Yuen-han. Founding members also came from the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (FEW),[9] such as Tsang Yok-sing who was the principal of the leftist Pui Kiu Middle School and a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate and had participated in the 1967 riots, and also school teacher Cheng Kai-nam.[7] Tsang Yok-sing and Tam Yiu-chung became the first chairman and Vice-Chairman of the party.[10]

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.[11] It participated in the municipal elections in the following year, winning 8 directly elected and 2 indirectly elected seats.[12] 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.[13] Three of the four party leaders were defeated by pro-democracy candidates in the election,[14] including party chairman Tsang Yok-sing who lost to 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, Tsang Yok-sing, 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).[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

In the second SAR LegCo elections in September 2000, despite the conflict of interests scandal of Cheng Kai-nam, 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 Cheng Kai-nam 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 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 Tsang Yok-sing 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. Tsang Yok-sing even openly aired his displeasure and advocated power sharing with the government.[21]

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.[22] The election results led to the resignation of chairman Tsang Yok-sing.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] 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 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 succeeded Maria Tam as the Vice-Chairman of the party. The four new Standing Committee members were all professionals; besides Gregory So, 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.[26] 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.[27]

Tam Yiu-chung chairmanship (2007–2012)[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 when he was appointed as the Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development by Chief Executive Donald Tsang in May 2008,[28] among other DAB members appointed to the government. Gregory So was later revealed by the media as having Canadian citizenship, which he had to renounce as a result.[29] 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, 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.

Leung Chun-ying era (2012–2017)[edit]

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.[30]

In the 2015 District Council election, the DAB retained its largest party status by winning 119 seats (including two who also ran under FTU banner), although incumbent legislators Christopher Chung and Elizabeth Quat were ousted by newcomers.

With four veteran incumbents, LegCo president Tsang Yok-sing, Tam Yiu-chung, Chan Kam-lam and Ip Kwok-him, retiring, the DAB set a more conservative electoral strategy in the 2016 Legislative Council election, fielding only nine candidate lists in the geographical constituencies and District Council (Second) functional constituency, two fewer than the last election. The DAB got all their nine candidate lists elected as a result with three traditional functional constituencies with a drop of their vote share from 20.22 to 16.68 per cent vote share. Chan Hak-kan succeeded Ip as the new caucus convenor.


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


Comments of Tiananmen massacre[edit]

On 15 May 2007, then-party chairman 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".[31]

Vice-Chairman Tam Yiu-chung defended Ma, but questioned the timing: "people will understand it gradually".[31] However, Vice-Chairman Lau Kong-wah, immediately offered to apologise, and distanced the party from Ma, saying that Ma had expressed "a personal opinion".[32] 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 374,780Increase 28.40Increase 7 3 1
11 / 60
2Increase 2ndSteady
2004 454,827Increase 25.49Decrease 9 3
12 / 60
2Increase 1stIncrease
2008 433,684Decrease 28.45Increase 9 4
13 / 60
2Increase 1stSteady
2012 366,140Decrease 20.22Decrease 9 4
13 / 70
3Increase 1stSteady
2016 361,617Decrease 16.68Decrease 7 5
12 / 70
1Decrease 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 81,126Steady 11.82Steady
37 / 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.jpg Kowloon West 10 July 1992 3 December 2003
2 Ma Lik
No image.svg Hong Kong Island 9 December 2003 8 August 2007[n 1]
3 Tam Yiu-chung
(born 1949)
Tam Yiu-chung.jpg New Territories West 28 August 2007 17 April 2015
4 Starry Lee
(born 1974)
Starry Lee.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
  • Kin Hung Kam-in, 2017–present
  • Vincent Cheng Wing-shun, 2017–present
  • Joe Lai Wing-ho, 2017–present

Senate chairmen[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Basic Info". The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  2. ^ a b "Hong Kong anti-gay advocates claim same-sex marriage will lead to human trafficking, abortions, incest". Hong Kong Free Press. 11 July 2017. 
  3. ^ Oh, To Be Young And Chinese, Newsweek, 6 July 1997
  4. ^ Cheung, Tony (8 February 2015). "Outgoing DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung looks to a new generation". South China Morning Post. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Rioni, S. G., ed. (2002). Hong Kong in Focus: Political and Economic Issues. Nova Publishers. p. 24. 
  7. ^ a b Cheng, Joseph Yu-shek; Brosseau, Maurice (1993). China Review 1993. Chinese University Press. p. 10.8. 
  8. ^ Lam, Wai-man; Lui, Percy Luen-tim; Wong, Wilson, eds. (2012). Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics. Hong Kong University Press. p. 161. 
  9. ^ Kwong, Paul C. K. (1992). Cheng, J. Y. S., ed. The Other Hong Kong Report 1992. Chinese University Press. p. xxi. 
  10. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1992". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. 
  11. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1994". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. 
  12. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1995". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. 
  13. ^ Mee, Kau Nyaw; Li, Si-ming, eds. (1996). The Other Hong Kong Report 1996. Chinese University Press. p. 55. 
  14. ^ The Other Hong Kong Report 1996, p. 38.
  15. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1996". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. 
  16. ^ Ho, Andy (30 September 1997). "The old pack reshuffled". The Standard. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2008. 
  17. ^ Schafferer, Christian (2005). Understanding Modern East Asian Politics. Nova Publishers. p. 106. 
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1998". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. 
  20. ^ "認識我們>歷史>1999". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Kwong, Bruce Kam (2009). Patron-Client Politics and Elections in Hong Kong. Routledge. p. 101. 
  23. ^ Cannix Yau, "DAB chief resigns over 'worst setback'" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 25 November 2003
  24. ^ "認識我們>歷史>2003". The Democratic Alliance of the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. 
  25. ^ Kuah, Khun Eng; Guiheux, Gilles, eds. (2009). Social Movements in China and Hong Kong: The Expansion of Protest Space. Amsterdam University Press. p. 191. 
  26. ^ "民建聯新班子 突顯年輕專業". Wen Wei Po. 25 April 2007. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "關於我們 > 歷史 > 大事年表 > 2007". The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 
  28. ^ "CE appoints Under Secretaries (with photos)". Hong Kong Information Services Department. 20 May 2008. 
  29. ^ Ewing, Kent (3 June 2008). "Hong Kong deputies disappoint". Asia Times. 
  30. ^ "民 建 聯 領 導 層 改 選   李 慧 琼 當 選 主 席". RTHK. 17 April 2015. 
  31. ^ a b Ambrose Leung, "Fury at DAB chief's Tiananmen tirade", Page 1, South China Morning Post, 16 May 2007
  32. ^ 「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 (in Chinese)

External links[edit]