Path of Democracy policy blueprint takes a stab at political middle ground

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The think tank says its Legco candidates must adhere to the “Imagine HK” blueprint’s prescriptions but has no plans to form a political party. (Photo credit: Jeni Zhi)

Path of Democracy (民主思路), the think tank founded by former pan-democratic legislative heavyweight Ronny Tong Ka-wah (湯家驊), released a ten-point policy blueprint yesterday, underlining its goal to form a middle way between Hong Kong’s polarised political camps.

“If any one of our members is going to stand in the coming election, they will have to follow this policy blueprint,” Tong stated.

A demand to secure universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive in five years and Legco in 10 years tops the the “Imagine HK (香港想像)” blueprint’s prescriptions. Other highlights include a call for regular dialogue between the central government and Hong Kong’s pan-democrats, and for a transparent mechanism for public office appointments, which will require the chief executive or the appointing body to provide clear eligibility criteria.

Many of the blueprint’s prescriptions reflect policy positions of the Leung Chun-ying administration. For instance, “Imagine HK” adopts the Standard Working Hours Committee’s controversial recommendation that working hours be stipulated in employment contracts rather than legislated. It also backs the administration’s willingness to allow mainland customs officials to enforce mainland immigration procedures at the West Kowloon high speed rail terminus.

The blueprint is relatively more ambitious in the attention it gives to education. To enhance the talent pool, it recommends increasing government expenditure on education to 20% of the budget, improving the Chinese as a second language curriculum for non-ethnic Chinese students, and compulsory learning of computer coding in secondary schools.

No party plans

Apart from releasing the blueprint, the Path of Democracy revealed that it has no intention of becoming a  political party in the short term. “If our members are going to run in an election, they most likely will not represent the think tank, but set up new political party,” Tong explained. “We are not going to set up a new party before the coming election, it’s too late.”

In response to questions on whether he will run for a New Territories East Legco seat in replacement of fellow Path of Democracy member Joseph Lau Pui-wing (劉培榮), who had earlier indicated interest in running but withdrew recently, Tong replied that he “regrettably will not be able to find an acceptable solution within such a short period of time.”

Prior to the think tank’s foundation, Tong represented New Territories East in Legco for 11 years as  a member of the Civic Party. He made headlines in the wake of the mid-2015 defeat of the administration’s political reform package, resigning from the legislature and his party out of frustration with the failure of pan-democrats and pro-establishment lawmakers to compromise.

From left to right: Raymond Mak (麥嘉晉), Ronny Tong Ka-wah (湯家驊), Gary Wong (黃梓謙).
From left to right: Raymond Mak Ka-chun (麥嘉晉), Ronny Tong Ka-wah (湯家驊), Gary Wong Tsz-him (黃梓謙). (Photo credit: Jeni Zhi)