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Politics

New party stakes claim to Hong Kong's political middle ground

HONG KONG   The Third Side is promising Hong Kong voters a change from the city's polarized politics. The new party, which aims to participate in the Legislative Council election slated for September, brings together founding members from both the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps. 

Third Side co-founder Tik Chi-yuen

     Tik Chi-yuen, a Third Side co-founder and a former member of the Democratic Party -- spoke with the Nikkei Asian Review about the political outlook and the party's plans for the council poll. He said that although Third Side's candidates have yet to be confirmed, the goal is to field at least three or four young professionals who are new to politics. 

Could you describe the basic stance of your party?   We have the same ideal [of supporting] the democratic movement with the Democrats, but with different strategies. We are willing to talk with the central government. We are as pragmatic as the pro-establishment [camp]. But we will not always say yes to the government.

What is your strategy for the Legislative Council election?   Due to the electoral system, the last winning candidate in the New Territory East district received around 5% of the vote. If we can [secure] 8% to 10%, then we can get the seat. Our target is 10% support. We are not talking about becoming a big party.

What do you think about the newcomers who emerged in the district council election last November?   Maybe I don't [know] the new faces [well], but they [reflect voters'] hopes. They are looking for changes in Hong Kong's political environment.

     Our party is looking for new faces and much younger people to join in the upcoming election. But the district council election is totally different from the Legislative Council election; at the district level, new faces are more interesting, more stimulating or refreshing. We are talking about political ideology -- whether [candidates] can influence society, especially the central government and the local government.

     In the next Legislative Council election, I am not sure whether young faces would attract [voters] or not. If the candidates are young, and they are more presentable with [political] capability, it is much better. But being new is not the only element [to winning].

The pan-democratic camp vetoed the electoral reform bill in June 2015, following the Umbrella Movement protests. If the central government introduces another set of political reforms, how are you going to respond?   If the pan-democrats can get more than one-third of the seats, the central government will not make the proposal again, because they think the pan-democrats will [veto] it. Another Umbrella Movement may happen. But it [will be] meaningless [unless] the central government finds some democrats in the Legislative Council who are willing to talk or negotiate a better proposal. Otherwise, it will create a problem.

What is your stance on political reform?   We are also looking for full democracy. If we can communicate with the central government and let the government have more confidence in Hong Kong people, then we will get a better proposal. So dialogue is very important. [The approach] should not be fully democratic or totally conservative, it should be in the middle. This is a negotiation process. But at the end, we feel we can [reach a] compromise. We need to step forward.

     We should try our best to get a better solution ... and then we can accept it. Otherwise, we will get nothing.

     If we get one or two seats in the legislature, we can talk with the government. Maybe we can look for a better proposal, but first we should get the seats.

Interviewed by Nikkei staff writers Yasuo Awai and Zheng Zhi in Hong Kong

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