Decision on reform 'stays despite veto'

Updated: 2015-06-19 07:48

By Xinhua in Hong Kong(China Daily)

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Decision on reform 'stays despite veto'

Citizens carry placards and shout slogans outside the Legislative Council headquarters in Admiralty district to support the Hong Kong government's electoral reform package on June 17, 2015. Roy Liu / China Daily

China's top legislature said on Thursday its decision on Hong Kong's electoral reforms, announced in August, would remain in force despite being vetoed by city lawmakers.

After a nine-hour debate, which began on Wednesday, 28 lawmakers voted against the motion, while eight voted in favor. Many lawmakers left the chamber before the vote.

To pass, the motion needed to be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all 70 lawmakers, or 47 votes, under a decision reached by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

A statement from the committee's office said, "Although the universal suffrage motion was not passed by the Legislative Council, the direction toward universal suffrage and the legal principles laid down in the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee must continue to be upheld in future efforts to pursue universal suffrage.

"The decision will continue to serve as the constitutional ground for Hong Kong in the future, as it enforces universal suffrage in the chief executive election, and its legal force is unquestionable."

The Standing Committee also accused the opposition camp of serving personal interests at the expense of Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.

The Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong said in a statement, "We are disappointed by the veto, as are the majority of Hong Kong people."

The Liaison Office said the universal suffrage package, "upholding democracy, openness, fairness and justice, is an electoral arrangement that perfectly suits Hong Kong's actual conditions".

Mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong was for the motion to pass, for a historic step forward to be made in the city's democratic journey, the statement added.

However, a small number of legislators vetoed the motion against most residents' will, costing Hong Kong a valuable chance to realize "one person, one vote," the office said, adding that "those who vetoed (the motion) have to bear historical accountability."

The central and Hong Kong governments and Hong Kong people had worked tirelessly to promote democracy and universal suffrage over the years, the office said, adding that it had confidence in the city's prosperity and stability under the "one country, two systems" principle.

The liaison office also called for Hong Kong people to put aside political bickering and to pool their efforts in developing the economy, improving people's livelihoods and promoting social stability.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the opposition camp "voted against the wishes of the majority of the Hong Kong people," denying their democratic right to choose the city's next leader.

Universal suffrage to elect all members of the city's legislature had also become uncertain, he said. "I, the government and millions of Hong Kong people are naturally disappointed.

"It's time for the community to move on," he added, pledging to focus on various economic development and livelihood issues during his remaining two years in office.

"The civil service will continue to serve the public with devotion and professionalism. I sincerely hope that, from now on, the community can ... work together for the common good of Hong Kong," he said.

China Daily's Timothy Chui contributed to this story.