Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Conspiracy between pan-democratic legislators and the NDI to trigger the 2010 de-facto ‘referendum’

On 15 November 2009 a conspiracy took place between pan-democrat legislators and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Hong Kong to discuss plans to trigger the de-facto ‘referendum’ in January 2010.


In November 2009, the Hong Kong Government released a consultation document on the new electoral arrangements for the chief executive poll and the legislative elections in 2012, mainly dealing with the expansion of the Election Committee membership.

It also sought to increase the number of seats in the legislature from 60 to 70, and to allow all district council seats in the legislature to be filled by elected district councilors in 2012.

This was widely opposed by the pan-democrats, so on 15 November 2009 Civic Act Up arranged a meeting on Direct Democracy and Civil Referendum, at which plans for triggering the de-facto referendum” were discussed.

As a result of these discussions, and on 26 January 2010, Albert Chan, Alan Leong, Tanya Chan, "Longhair" Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man resigned their LegCo seats, to trigger by-elections which they claimed was a de-facto ‘referendum’ on universal suffrage.

The evidence

The conspiracy was videotaped and put on YouTube in a series of eleven short videos (Part 1/11 to Part 11/11). This report is based on the information in the videos.

Who attended the meeting

The following people attended the Civic Act Up meeting on Direct Democracy and Civil Referendum (交流會:直接民主和民間公投) in Hong Kong on 15 November 2009:

1. Cyd HO Sau-lan (何秀蘭), Hong Kong pan-democratic legislator;

2. Gary FAN Kwok-wai (范國威), Hong Kong pan-democratic legislator;

3. YEUNG Kai-cheung (楊繼昌), Policy researcher, League of Social Democrats (社會民主連線政策研究員);

4. Belinda Winterbourne, Programme Manager, National Democratic Institute, Hong Kong;
5. Stephen Tong, Programme Officer, National Democratic Institute, Hong Kong;

6. Bruno Kaufmann, President Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe, sponsored by the UN Democracy Fund;

7. Dr. Christian Gruenler, Executive Director SOS-Kinderdoerfer Global Partner GmbH;

8. KWOK Hiu-chung (郭曉忠), Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (香港人權監察教育幹事);

9. NGAI Kei-lok (魏基樂), Civic Act Up (公民起動成員);

10. CHAN Chun-man (陳雋文), Chinese University of Hong Kong student (中文大學學生);

11. Other unidentified people.

What was said at the meeting?

Whilst much was discussed at the meeting, the following key statements confirm this was a conspiracy between pan-democrat legislators and the NDI:

Cyd HO (Video 6/11. Time: start to 0.33)

Cyd HO briefing the meeting on the need for secrecy:

Now one thing to state.  Everything discussed in this room should be keeped in confidence. You could go out and tell your friends that, that’s what LSD thinks, but don’t quote cheung OK, he could be strangled.

Cyd HO (Video 4/11. Time: 1.23 to 2.46)

Cyd HO briefing everyone on the purpose of the meeting:

I’m going to ask a question in Hong Kong context, so anytime you want to raise any question, just feel free to interrupt, because it’s a small group discussion, so that’s the beauty of having very few people in this meeting and just feel free to participate at anytime, OK.

And with Bruno’s response, one idea that comes to my mind just a second ago is that if we trigger a civil referendum actually it should not be the decision of the legislator himself or herself, because there’s only one people then there might not be enough support to decide that there should be a referendum to decide certain issue, so that I don’t expect Bruno to comment on it, but actually it’s just the idea that’s sparked off a minute ago maybe we have to consider to have a signature campaign before we really submit our resignation like if we gather 5% support from the people, then lets resign, if not then we know we are going to be defeated and die in disgrace (laughs).

Belinda Winterbourne (Video 10/11. Time: 8.28 to 9.19)

Belinda Winterbourne, NDI Programme Manager in Hong Kong asking
how much time do we have, if we did want to conduct a civil referendum,
educate them why we are doing this

Christian raised the point that how much time do we have. Just now he mentioned you know ‘til January for example, but let’s say if we did want to conduct a civil referendum let’s say between now and the end of the (inaudible), how long does it usually take to educate the public on civil referendum, cos I presume that you’d have to do a lot of publicity prior to the actual exercise umm and educate them why we are doing this and you know how does that vote count eventually.

Five Legislators resign on 26 January 2010 to trigger the de-facto ‘referendum 

The conspiracy was completed when five Hong Kong legislators (from left to right) Albert Chan (League of Social Democrats), Alan Leong (Civic Party), Tanya Chan (Civic Party), Leung Kwok-hung (League of Social Democrats) and Wong Yuk-man (League of Social Democrats ) signed the resignation letter outside the Legislative Council on 26 January 2010 to trigger the de-facto ‘referendum'.

Alan LEONG and Tanya CHAN of the Civic Party resigned
to complete the conspiracy

Albert CHAN, LEUNG Kwok-hung and Raymond WONG of the
League of Social Democrats resigned to complete the conspiracy

References and credits

Eleven videos were taken during the seminar and uploaded onto Youtube by “hkdirectelection”  under the title  交流會:直接民主和民間公投 in December 2009 (Numbered Part 1/11 to Part 11/11). See link to the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_w0DcbpJZE

Political Party Logo Credits: Alliance for True Democracy. See link at: http://www.atd.hk/en/?page_id=10

Resignation photo: AP photo at Jamaica Observer. Hong Kong pressures Beijing for democracy. AP. Wednesday, January 27, 2010. See link at: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Hong-Kong_7362322    

NDI Logo courtesy of NDI HKU poster.

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