|Liberal Party |
|Founded||6 June 1993|
|Headquarters||801-803, Manhattan Place, 23 Wang Tai Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong|
|National affiliation||Pro-Beijing camp|
|Legislative Council||Template:Infobox political party/seats|
|District Council||Template:Infobox political party/seats|
Liberal Party (simplified Chinese: 自由党; traditional Chinese: 自由黨; pinyin: Zìyóu Dǎng) is a business-friendly, liberal conservative political party in Hong Kong.
The Liberal Party is considered conservative and business-friendly. 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 the 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 disturb the public sentiment too greatly: 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.
Changes in political stance
It has been alleged that the party began leaning towards the pro-government camp within a few years before the transfer of sovereignty. Under Tung Chee Hwa's administration, it was generally considered a government-ally. Since Donald Tsang took over in November 2005, the party has continued its generally pro-government stance.
On 6 July 2003, James Tien Pei Chun the leader of Liberal Party 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 the pro-government and the pro-democracy supporters. Some leftists, however, felt that this demonstrated the opportunistic nature of the party.
At almost the same time, the Liberal Party decided to shift its political stance 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 sentiments. Their stance in universal suffrage was then 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.
In 13 January 2006, the Liberal Party has opposed Chief Executive Donald Tsang's plan to implement a five-day work week for most civil servants, due to concerns that this would put too much pressure on small to medium-sized enterprises to cut their working week to five days as well. The change went ahead and was considerably adopted in the private sector. There is no planned legislation to force private employers to commit to a five-day working week.
Performance in elections
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.
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, following which they 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 Liberal Party, citing internal party disagreements. Lam had been courting for the party leadership since Tien's resignation, with support from Sophie Leung and Andrew Leung. These resignations, along with the resignation of Heung, reduces the Liberal Party from seven Legco councillors to three.
Miriam Lau became chairman of the party.
The Liberal Party performed badly in the 2012 Hong Kong legislative election, 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. Pending a vote by members for a permanent replacement in October, Vincent Fang Kang took over as acting chairman.
|Election||Number of votes||Share of votes||Geographical constituency seats||Functional constituency seats||Elections committee seats||Total seats|
List of chairmen
- Allen Lee (1993–1998)
- James Tien (1998–2008)
- Miriam Lau (2008–2012)
- Vincent Fang Kang (acting, Sept–Oct 2012)
- 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
- Liberal Party official site (Click 'English' in the top right-hand corner for the English version)
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