Okay, who was in charge of counting?
If it was left to Jeffrey Lam to organize a mass walk-off, get everyone on board and do a headcount, it might have been too much for one guy.
After all, he also had to think of something to say to Legco President Jasper Tsang to trigger the right conditions.
But we know now that when James Tien and seven other pro-establishment lawmakers stayed put, the plot had unraveled before it began.
So the spectacle of Lam and his allies filing out of the chamber will be remembered not for its drama but for a photo of a memorably bewildered trade unionist Chan Yuen-han framed against a line of suits.
It fell to Tien, Chan and others who apparently didn’t get Lam’s memo to carry the fight for the election reform bill to the bitter end.
Wong Ting-kwong, who was caught watching a sexy woman on his smartphone, was in fact paying attention. He got the message and walked.
We can ignore the silly talk that bemused netizens are having fun with, such as that Lam was merely taking a toilet break and his cohorts mistook it for the start of their action, but the fact is someone goofed.
We can believe that the move was meant to give 78-year-old Lau Wong-fat enough time to get to the chamber from sick bay.
Whatever additional murky reasons there might have been, it was clear the group was trying to deplete the numbers in order to deny a quorum and stall the vote.
But getting it right is tricky because it takes all fingers and toes and more to count to 36 – the magic number that would have done the job under Legco’s parliamentary procedure.
We didn’t say it but the term for the epic miscalculation is “low-class technical mistake”. (In fact, it came from a key Hong Kong deputy to China’s top political consultative body.)
Miscalculation is now part of the story of the short-lived election reform bill, if not the defining narrative, because now most pro-establishment politicians are saying it. It’s such a sprawling excuse you can hide under it
Pity those who were denied a “real choice” such as Regina Ip, one of the most vocal backers of the bill, who shed the first tears of defeat for her part in the walk-off.
Now she knows what it’s like to have no real choice in something as important as a vote.
Isn’t that what it was all about in the first place? Having real choices in the selection of Hong Kong’s next leader?
Walk-off or not, the bill was going to be crushed anyway with all 27 pan-democrats resolutely against it.
The only question was whether its most loyal supporters were going down with it.
But rather than fight, they ran.
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