A member of the influential Basic Law Committee has criticised the walkout staged by pro-Beijing legislators in Thursday’s vote as a “failure.”
Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee from the University of Hong Kong’s law faculty made the comments after pro-establishment legislators walked out of the Legislative Council in a last ditch attempt to nullify the vote on the Government’s political reform proposals.
Legislators were voting on a package of electoral reforms which would have allowed Hong Kongers to directly elect their chief executive for the first time, but from a pool of candidates that have been vetted by a pro-Beijing nominating committee.
In response to whether the Chinese government would be disappointed with the results, Chen said, “the central government of course would be very dissatisfied, and to Hong Kong citizens who support the resolution… the overall performance of pro-establishment legislators could be said as a failure.”
Speaking to RTHK, Chen said: “[Hong Kong] used over two years to discuss the political reform issue, so much time and effort was expended, and it ended in a farce
“The moment of the final vote should have been a solemn, important historical moment,” he said.
“If 41 members of the legislature voted for [the resolution], 28 voted in opposition, at least it provides an account to society.”
The incident occurred when pro-Beijing legislators attempted a last-minute walk-out when the resolution had already entered the voting stages, in order to allow another legislator, Lau Wong-fat, to arrive in time for the vote.
However, since the act was uncoordinated, eight pro-establishment legislators remained and voted. The eight votes legitimised the result of the vote, ending with 28 votes opposing and eight in support.
Many other pro-establishment legislators have commented and apologised for the incident. Liberal Party’s James Tien, one of the legislators among the eight who stayed, also harshly criticised his colleagues.
The Basic Law Committee is a working committee under the NPCSC. Its function is to study questions arising from the implementation of Articles 17, 18, 158 and 159 of the Basic Law and submit its views thereon to the NPCSC.
Albert Chen Hung-yee is a constitutional law professor at the University of Hong Kong. He is considered a moderate amongst the pro-establishment side. During the consultation of the political reforms, he suggested a “blank vote option” which would allow the public to veto the two to three candidates pre-screened by the nominating committee but the suggestion was not adopted.