HK lawmakers reject govt's electoral roadmap
HONG Kong's legislature yesterday rejected a Beijing-backed electoral reform package, which the pro-democracy camp called "fake democracy", leaving the city in a deadlock over how its leader should be chosen.
The government's electoral roadmap would have given all Hong Kong residents the right to vote for the chief executive for the first time in 2017, with the candidates being pre-screened by a Beijing loyalist committee.
The proposal was voted down by 28 votes to eight, after 32 pro-government lawmakers, who would have registered their support for the reform, left the legislative chamber and missed casting their votes, reported China's People's Daily.
According to the newspaper, the lawmakers had walked out to wait for one other lawmaker who was running late to turn up.
However, nine in their camp were not informed and remained in the chamber, resulting in a sufficient number for the vote to proceed. One among the nine - the legislature chairman - did not vote.
The package would have been rejected anyway, as it required support from two-thirds of the assembly's 70 lawmakers to pass.
"This result is not what we want to see," Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said after the vote.
He added that China wanted to "press ahead with the democratic development of Hong Kong" in the interests of stability and prosperity in the city, reported Agence France-Presse.
However, China's top legislature issued a statement following the vote, saying that the vetting of candidates decided in August is a non-negotiable issue.
"The decision shall continue to serve as the constitutional ground for Hong Kong in the future," reported the official Xinhua news agency.
With no popular election for 2017, Hong Kong's next chief executive will be chosen by a 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee, which was how current leader Leung Chun Ying was elected.
"I, the government and millions of Hong Kong people are naturally disappointed," Mr Leung said after the vote, accusing the democratic lawmakers of denying residents the opportunity to choose a leader.
Mr Leung added that it was time for the community to "move on" and focus on other issues.
All 27 democratic lawmakers marched to the front of the chamber after the veto and unfurled a sign calling for genuine universal suffrage and for Hong Kongers not to give up, reported Reuters.
Some carried yellow umbrellas that became a symbol of the pro-democracy protest movement last year, which paralysed parts of Hong Kong.
"This is not the end of the democratic movement," said pan-democratic lawmaker Alan Leong. "This is a new beginning."
Outside the legislature, pro-democracy protesters broke into cheers and clapped wildly after the result.
"I'm excited!" said 30-year-old Ken Tsang. "It was a proposal that would only benefit those in power."
Nearby, around 500 pro-government supporters staged a minute's silence, then began chanting: "Vote them down in 2016!", calling for democratic lawmakers to be kicked out of the legislature in a citywide election next year.
"Hong Kong... was given the chance to have universal suffrage, but the democrats took it away," said Leung Ting To, 63, who was among them.