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China Daily, June 18

China's Hong Kong Legislative Council on Thursday vetoed a motion of the proposed universal suffrage for selecting the region's next chief executive in 2017.

After a nine-hour debate which started on Wednesday, 28 lawmakers of the Legislative Council voted against the motion while eight voted in favor.

 

Many lawmakers left the chamber of the legislature building before the vote.

According to a decision by the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, the motion needs to be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all the 70 lawmakers, or 47 votes, in the Legislative Council.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide stood firm Wednesday on their position during the first day of the reform motion reading.

The Hong Kong government moved a motion to overhaul the method to select the city's next chief executive, prescribed in an annex of the Basic Law.

The motion was moved 20 months after the creation of a special task force to run the electoral reform process.

More than 3 million registered voters in the city will be able to elect the next chief executive by "one person, one vote" next year if more than 46 lawmakers out of the total of 70 vote for the motion.

But 27 opposition members and Leung Kalau, an independent lawmaker representing doctors, vowed earlier to veto the proposal.

Senior local officials made a last-minute pitch in the council chamber on Wednesday before the deliberations began, with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressing that the electoral overhaul plan is the best possible option.

Lam said that under this plan, aspirants for the top job will put forward manifestos that "better address the needs of the masses".

She recognized efforts by some to forge consensus, but said the opposition camp's advocacy of "unconstitutional proposals" and the "Occupy Central" campaign last year had added obstacles to the city's first universal suffrage election - a goal promised in the Basic Law.

Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung dismissed fears that the election design will be set "forever," saying a statutory mechanism to optimize the election methods is provided for under the Basic Law.

Twenty-five lawmakers spoke before the meeting was adjourned at 8 p.m.  All the legislators who spoke reiterated their position on the reform package, including 16 opposition members who promised to exercise their veto power.

Starry Lee Wai-king, head of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, accused organizers and supporters of the illegal occupation movement of not respecting the Constitution and the Basic Law.

The Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah agreed that the opposition's attitude was an obstacle to consensus.

Outside the council headquarters, hundreds of people from all walks of life voiced their support for the reform proposals.

 

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