Martin C.M. Lee (Lee Chu Ming) is the founding Chairman (1994 - 2002) of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong's largest and most popular political party. Prior to the founding of the Democratic Party in October 1994, Mr. Lee was Chairman of the United Democrats of Hong Kong - Hong Kong's first political party - which won the first-ever democratic elections to the territory's Legislative Council in 1991. Since then, the Democratic Party has won every set of elections held in Hong Kong and has received wide public support for its stance that Hong Kong must develop democratic institutions and preserve freedom, human rights and the rule of law if the territory is to continue to prosper as part of China. Mr. Lee was born in Hong Kong in 1938. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Hong Kong and studied law at Lincoln's Inn in London.
A barrister, Mr. Lee was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1979 and was chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association from 1980-1983. He was first elected to the Legislative Council in 1985 and has been overwhelmingly re-elected in every election since. He served from 1985 -1989 as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee, the body appointed by Beijing to draft Hong Kong's post-1997 constitution, until his expulsion following the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Mr. Lee was honoured in November 2004 by Rutgers College with the Brennan Human Rights Award. The European People's Party and European Democrats in the European Parliament named Mr. Lee the first non-European recipient of the Schuman Medal in January 2000. Mr. Lee was honored, in the same month, by the University of Toronto as Goodman Fellow. The Claremont Institute in Los Angeles gave its Statesmanship Award to Mr. Lee in 1998.
In 1997, the National Endowment for Democracy presented Mr. Lee its Democracy Award at a Capitol Hill ceremony. In the same year, Mr. Lee was awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by Amherst and Holy Cross Colleges. In 1996, Liberal International - representing 70 political parties worldwide - awarded Mr. Lee the Prize for Freedom at the World Council of Liberals meeting. In 1995, the 350,000-member American Bar Association awarded Mr. Lee its 1995 International Human Rights Award "in recognition of extraordinary contributions to human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of justice."