Chief Secretary Carrie Lam has vowed to fight till the end to secure votes from the pan-democratic camp for the passage of the Beijing-endorsed political reform bill.
Speaking at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Lam called on all legislators to seize the opportunity to implement universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The government launched the second round of its consultations on political reform Wednesday. Pan-democrats said they will boycott the two-month exercise and reject the political reform bill.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who did not attend the Legco hearing, will need at least four votes from the pan-democratic camp to have the bill passed.
As Lam was about to make a speech on the consultation exercise, 24 pan-democrats held up yellow umbrellas, the symbol of the pro-democracy protest movement, and walked out of the Legco chamber.
They said the consultation exercise is fake and meaningless, and supporting it will only mean greater losses for those seeking genuine universal suffrage.
In her speech, Lam said political reform is an opportunity that should not be missed, adding that the universal suffrage system can be further optimized within the framework set by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in August.
In a statement, CY Leung said it is better to have universal suffrage than not, and taking a step forward is better than remaining in the same spot.
He urged lawmakers to support the political reform and not to sacrifice the right of five million qualified voters to directly elect the next chief executive.
According to the government’s 53-page consultation paper, up to 12 aspirants can be recommended to run for chief executive after securing 100 to 150 votes from the nomination committee.
These potential candidates can then campaign to solicit support from the nomination committee, and two or three of them will win official nomination after securing over half of the votes from the nomination committee.
Lam warned that if the universal suffrage proposal for 2017 is voted down, Hong Kong will have to wait until 2022 for the chance to vote their chief executive.
Democratic Party chief Emily Lau called the consultation an insult to the Hong Kong people’s intelligence, noting that under the government plan, only Beijing’s puppets will be allowed to run for chief executive.
She noted that the last round of consultation prompted the Umbrella Movement and warned this round of consultation could bring further instability and unrest to society.
Civic Party’s Alan Leong said the consultation is totally bound by the Chinese legislative body’s decision in August last year.
He said pursuing the consultation exercise is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
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