A group of pro-establishment legislators have apologised to Hong Kongers after walking out of the legislative chamber during a key vote on political reforms.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Regina Ip, chair of the New People’s Party, told journalists at a press conference today, “We wish to express our sincere apologies to citizens who support the government motion.” 

Ip said that the veto meant that Hong Kongers lost “the golden opportunity to choose our chief executive by universal suffrage by a narrow margin.” She said, “We and our supporters are equally aggrieved and disappointed.”

When explaining why the pro-Beijing legislators walked out of LegCo, Ip said: “As the voting bell was ringing, the honourable Lau Wong Fat was unable to come back to the LegCo chambers in time because of his indisposition. We deeply hoped that the 41 [pro-Beijing] legislators would be able to vote in support, so we asked the LegCo president to adjourn the meeting for 15 mins.”

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, president of LegCo, was unable to adjourn the meeting due to rules of the chambers. Ip said that the pro-Beijing legislators decided to “collectively step out of the legislature” as the voting time would finish in half a minute. However, she said that due to a miscommunication, legislators who left the chambers lost their opportunity to cast their vote.

Among the eight legislators who remained in the legislative chambers, five were Liberal Party members who were absent from the press conference held by pro-establishment legislators.

The proposed political reform package would have granted Hong Kong people a right to vote for the next chief executive, but only from a pool of two or three candidates vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

Paul Benedict Lee

Paul Benedict Lee is an undergraduate law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul has previously contributed to HK Magazine and Radio Television Hong Kong, covering issues ranging from local heritage conservation to arts features. He has also worked as a legal intern at local human rights firm Daly & Associates.