Hong Kong Rejects Beijing Reform Package
Controversial electoral reform proposals which sparked mass protests in Hong Kong last September have been rejected by lawmakers.
The city’s Legislative Council were voting on China-backed plans to change the way Hong Kong’s Chief Executive was elected.
Although the new system would have allowed the next leader to be directly chosen by voters, Beijing would have retained the right to choose the candidates on the ballot.
At least 47 of the chamber’s 70 politicians needed to support the bill for it to pass. However, just eight voted in favour of the package, with 28 pro-democracy lawmakers voting against it.
Many lawmakers who were against the electoral reform staged a walkout as the bill headed for defeat.
“This motion has not gained a two-thirds majority vote. I announce that the motion has been vetoed,” said Jasper Tsang, the Legislative Council’s president.
The result represents a defeat for Beijing’s leadership and a victory for the “umbrella movement” which brought the heart of the former British colony to a standstill last autumn.
Hong Kong’s most senior stateswoman at the time of the handover from Britain to China in 1997, Anson Chan, told Sky News she had expected the pro-democracy lobby to prevail.
Ahead of the vote, she said: “We want choice. We do not want to be presented by two or three puppets anointed by Beijing and then be told to go and exercise the ‘vote’ in your hands.”
Ironically, the pro-democracy faction’s rejection of the “Beijing plan” means that the status quo will remain, with only a committee of 1,200 people eligible to vote for the next leader or Chief Executive.
Mrs Chan insists campaigners will back nothing less than full democratic rights.
“What’s the point of this right [to vote] when you have no choice in selecting those who you want to see as candidates? No pan-democratic candidate can ever get through,” she added.
However, among the pro-establishment lobby outside Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sky News found large gatherings of people who believe a little democracy is better than none.
Jackie Cheung, leading a group of people calling for the Beijing-backed proposal to be passed, explained that democracy is a step-by-step process.
Rejecting Anson Chan’s assertion that only full democratic rights will do, he said that it was better to accept a “form of democracy” rather than no democracy.