Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled the government’s final package of political reform proposals to the Legislative Council this morning.
There were no surprises in what she had to say. The reform package follows the framework imposed by Beijing last August for the 2017 chief executive election, and has caused controversy and division among Hongkongers. Pan-democratic legislators have already vowed to veto it when the government asks Legco this summer for formal approval.
In detailing the reform package – which contained no concessions – Lam still urged pan democrats to lend their support. “The pressing objective now is to make it happen,” she told Legco, warning that if the plan were vetoed, they would “miss this golden opportunity”.
But, as soon as Lam finished speaking and asked for questions, pan democrats carrying signs and wearing shirts with the yellow X marched out of the room, leaving an entire section of the council room empty save for Civic Party’s Ronny Tong Ka-wah.
Radical activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats sported a sign with a photo of Lam with faeces instead of hair and tried to give Lam a model of a horse dropping. He asked if Lam would advise the chief executive to dissolve Legco, which the Basic Law says can be done if the chamber refuses to pass a budget or any other important bill introduced by the government. When Lam did not respond or accept the model of faeces, Long Hair threw it to the ground and stormed out of the council room, yelling at the Chair.
Before Lam’s appearance at Legco this morning, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying again urged pan-democrats not to deny Hongkongers the opportunity to elect their own leader for the first time in the city’s history. He defended the plan as a step towards universal suffrage.
To pass, the reform package will need a two-thirds majority vote in Lego. If the plan is approved by Legco, Leung will give his consent and then submit a report to the Standing Committee for approval of changes to the chief executive election.
Critics of the plan argue that Beijing’s framework will not allow for any potential chief executive candidates who may be critical of the central government. The plan allows the public to vote for two or three candidates who have been pre-selected by a nominating committee of 1,200 members. The contenders for chief executive in 2017 will need 120 votes of support from the nominating committee in order to initially qualify for consideration as candidates. “Each nominating committee member can recommend one person and the number of recommendations one can get will be capped at 240,” said Lam, adding that the system could produce five to 10 candidates.