A walkout and a twist - voting for reform package doesn't go as planned

A walkout and a twist - voting for reform package doesn't go as planned

In a dramatic turn of events, lawmakers exited the chamber at the Legislative Council building less than a minute before Hong Kong's historic vote

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Photo: Reuters

The Hong Kong reform package was rejected by Legislative Council this afternoon as pro-Beijing lawmakers walked out of the chamber before the vote.

Among 37 lawmakers staying for the vote, only eight lawmakers voted in support of the government's electoral reform plan for the 2017 chief executive election. The proposal needed at least 47 votes to pass.

It came as no surprise that all 27 pan-democractic lawmakers voted against the proposal after 10 hours of debate, which began yesterday and carried into this morning. A 28th "no" vote was cast by pro-establishment lawmaker and medical representative Dr Leung Ka-lau. No one abstained.

Less than a minute ahead of the vote, about 30 pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the chamber. This included the central and local governments' staunchest supporters from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Federation of Trade Unions and the Business and Professionals Alliance.

Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung told the press afterwards that pro-establishment lawmakers decided to all leave the chamber so there would be not enough quorum to vote in an attempt to delay the vote so the tardy Lau Wong-fat, lawmaker representing the Heung Yee Kuk constituency, could cast his vote. Lau apologised for being late and explained it was due to health issues.

Confused about what happened? This graphic should help. Click on image for more details. Credit: SCMP

 

Lam admitted there was a communication gap and not every pro-establishment lawmaker has left the chamber.

The only eight pro-establishment lawmakers who voted for the reform package were five lawmakers from the Liberal Party, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han, and independents Lam Tai-fai and Chan Kin-por.

No one from the DAB, Business and Professionals Alliance and the New People’s Party were present for the vote.

Legco President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing also did not cast a ballot.

Outside the heavily guarded Legislative Council building, roars of cheers and boos filled the air as breaking news revealed to the hundreds of protesters from rival groups what was going on inside the building.

The final vote came after two days of debate.

The rejection of the constitutional reform has the potential to stop democratic development in its tracks for the next few years. The government has said it has no plan to launch another round of electoral reform before 2017.

And when the next chief executive election comes in 2017, the Hong Kong public will not be able to elect their leader by universal suffrage. Instead, the arrangements adopted in the 2012 election will continue to apply. That is, some 1,200 members of an Election Committee will go to the polls.

The future of universal suffrage for members of the Legislative Council members is also uncertain.

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