A majority of pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers say they will stay in the Legislative Council for one more year as a public survey failed to show a decisive result on whether they should extend their terms.
According to a poll conducted by The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) between September 21 and 26, about 48.1% of pro-democracy supporters said democrats should leave the LegCo while about 43.9% said they should stay. In the poll, about 2,560 people were interviewed by phone with 1,068 of them self-identified as supporters of the pro-democracy camp.
Of all the poll’s participants, 53.4% said democrats should leave the LegCo while 36.8% said they should stay. Robert Chung Ting-yiu, president of PORI, said most politically neutral or pro-establishment participants preferred democrats to leave.
Pan-democrats said earlier they would leave the LegCo if more than half of the pro-democracy supporters said they should go. As the poll result was indecisive, 15 pro-democracy lawmakers said they would stay. Six lawmakers belonging to the Professionals Guild also said they would stay.
However, Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan announced she would be leaving the party for personal reasons and cease to be a lawmaker. She would leave the political field and spend more time with her mother. Last year, Chan underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor.
On Monday, pro-democrats Chui Hoi-dick and Ray Chan announced that they would not serve as legislators from Wednesday, when the official term of the current council ends. The number of democratic lawmakers fell from 24 to 21 if moderate lawmaker Pierre Chan from the Functional Constituency – Medical and Cheng Chung-tai of Civic Passion are included.
The number of pro-establishment lawmakers stood at 41 after Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan lost her seat in a recent court case due to a technical error in a 2018 by-election.
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party and the new convenor of the pro-democracy camp, said it was a difficult decision based on their political judgement, but staying was the lesser of two evils.
“We can at least have some power, some force to fight against the government, instead of giving up the whole venue to the pro-establishment camp and the government,” he said.
The pro-democracy camp said they would discuss future cooperation plans with lawmakers who decided to leave and localists who won the pan-democrat primaries for the now-postponed LegCo elections. They said they would continue to call on the government to resume the LegCo elections as early as possible because the epidemic had eased.
Democrats have been debating about whether they should stay or leave since July 31 when the government postponed for a year elections that were due on September 6. Traditional democrats preferred to stay on to fight against what they see as the government’s “evil law” amendments while aggressive democrats said current lawmakers should finish their four-year terms on September 30. They later agreed to decide the matter with a public survey.
Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-kung said pro-democracy lawmakers would have to adopt more aggressive means in the chamber to strengthen their backing from supporters. LegCo President Andrew Leung said he welcomed the pro-democracy legislators to stay and help monitor the government.