Chief Executive CY Leung has thrown his support behind three legislators who walked out of a vote on political reform, putting an end to speculation that they would be removed from the city’s policy-making body.
The news comes after lawmakers from the pro-establishment camp walked out of the Legislative Council last Thursday in a last ditch attempt to make a vote on the government’s political reform proposals inquorate.
In the post-mortem of the walkout, observers speculated that three legislative councillors – Regina Ip, Jeffrey Lam and Starry Lee – could be axed or forced to resign as unofficial members of the Leung’s Executive Council for staging the walkout.
Speaking to journalists at a press conference on Tuesday, Leung said: “These three legislators who also have office in the Executive Council have for a long time supported the HKSAR government, hoping that Hong Kong can have ‘one person, one vote’ for the 2017 chief executive elections.
“Twenty-eight pan-democratic legislators vetoed the bill. No matter how the pro-establishment lawmakers voted, the bill could not be passed.
“There were technical problems during the vote, but I am confident that all pro-establishment lawmakers have for a long time supported the HKSAR government. A minority vetoed the bill.”
Immediately after last week’s shambolic vote, Leung told the press “we need to move on” and announced he would focus on repairing the relationship between the government and the legislature.
Last week’s walk out was led by Jeffrey Lam, the vice chair of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong. Lam attempted to buy time by calling on the Legislative Council’s President Tsang Yok-sing to wait for one of their members to make it into the chamber to vote. When Tsang refused, Lam and his pro-establishment colleagues left the chamber.
Last week Ip, the chair of the New People’s Power party, burst into tears live on air, saying she didn’t know if there would be another opportunity to allow Hong Kongers to directly elect their chief executive.
Starry Lee is the chair of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong who said she felt Leung would understand the blunder. On Monday, Lee’s colleague Tam Yiu-chung said the party was given instructions from a top Central Government Official to make sure “no vote left behind”.
The Executive Council is comprised of both official members, drawn from the heads of all government departments, and non-official members, who are appointed by the chief executive. Its members are required by convention to publicly support official policy.
All three legislators have been non-official ExCo members since 2012.
Additional Reporting: Eric Cheung.