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HK democracy veteran to retire
Martin Lee says he wants to make way for new blood on political scene.
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2008 05:35 GMT

Martin Lee has been Hong Kong's most prominent advocate for democracy [AP]

Martin Lee, Hong Kong's veteran democratic campaigner, has said he will step down as a member of the territory's legislature, citing age and a desire to allow new people to enter the island's political ranks.
 
"No one is indispensable," the founding member of Hong Kong's Democratic Party and a prominent critic of Beijing, said on Friday.
Lee, 69, said he would step down as a member of Hong Kong's legislative council at the end of his current term in July but would remain as a member of the Democratic Party.
 
Lee helped broaden Hong Kong's political landscape by establishing the first real opposition party in the territory.
Since Hong Kong switched from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Lee and the party he helped found have been a thorn in Beijing's side.
 
Lee began his political career in 1985 as a lawmaker for the legal constituency.
 
From then until 1989 he was a member of Hong Kong's Basic Law drafting committee, but quit the body following the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989.
 
Lee has been banned from visiting China since the 1980s for criticising human rights conditions there.
 
Lost democracy dream
 
He told Reuters on Friday that his biggest regret throughout his career had been that he "could not realise the democracy dream".
 
At the end of last year, China's parliament made a landmark ruling to possibly allow direct elections for Hong Kong's leader in 2017, although key details have been left vague.
 
Lee's prominent role as a democracy activist has drawn fire from Hong Kong's considerable pro-Beijing camp.
 
A jeering crowd heckled him outside the legislature after he wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal in October last year, stating that Beijing's Olympic Games provided a good opportunity to push for human rights improvements in China.
 
Numerous articles in the Hong Kong press denounced him, while the pro-Beijing Sing Tao newspaper called him a “traitor.”
Source:
Agencies
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