Pro-establishment lawmakers have attempted to explain what happened during farcical scenes that saw more than 30 of them walk out of Legco just minutes before a historic vote on Hong Kong’s political future.

In an attempt to postpone the vote by 15 minutes to give lawmaker Lau Wong-fat time to arrive, 33 left the chamber, but eight remained. The vote went ahead, with the pan-democrats blocking Beijing’s reforms.

Jeffrey lam kin fung
Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung.

“I am extremely unhappy and I would like to apologise once again. However, there is a lot to be done in the future and I hope the Hong Kong society will put down the arguments over the past year,” said Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, member of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.

Ann Chiang Lai-wan, member of pro-Beijing party DAB, called the pro-government legislators’ uncoordinated actions “tragic to watch”.

Chiang questioned the actions of the pro-establishment legislators who chose to remain for the vote, allowing there to be sufficient members for the vote to take place. “Was it a lack of communication? Not knowing what happened? None of these are reasons,” she said on her Facebook page. She referred to those who remained as “self-centred”.

She added: “Why leave the chambers to wait for one person to arrive if the voting results cannot be changed? One word: daft.” Chiang said that someone would need to be held responsible for the farce.

Felix chung kwok pan
Felix Chung Kwok-pan. Photo: Now TV.

Wong Kwok-kin, member of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said that “it was an irresponsible decision.”

“I am extremely disappointed that, until this moment, the decision-maker has not come out to apologise,” he said during an RTHK interview on Friday morning.

Felix Chung Kwok-bun, chairman of the Liberal Party, said: “Even if we knew from the beginning that we were to wait for Lau Wong-fat, we [the Liberal Party] may not do so.”

Ip Kwok-him
Ip Kwok-him. Photo: Now TV.

Ip Kwok-him, representative of DAB, openly apologised on a Now TV programme to supporters of the political reform. “I was one of those responsible for making the decision, and I should bear the blame for it,” he said. “I believe that all of our 33 legislators truly support the political reform package.”

Lam Kin-fung, who initiated the walkout, said the blunder was caused by a “communication gap”.

New People Party chair Regina Ip cried during a radio programme on Commercial Radio Friday morning. She said she genuinely believed “one person, one vote would be good for the governance of Hong Kong”.

Regina Ip crying tears
Regina Ip in tears. Photo: Now TV.

Former Liberal Party leader James Tien, who remained in the chamber, commented on Facebook that the blunder occurred because “people are just incurably dumb”. He said during an RTHK programme Thursday evening that the decision to wait for Lau Wong-fat was “unnecessary” and “ridiculous”.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said she felt “very, very sad and regretted” the blunder during the same RTHK radio program. She also admitted they had dealt with the situation “improperly”.

Leung Mei-fun, a legislator from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong said that the vetoing of the political reform bill was “unfortunate but expected”. Speaking to HKFP, she said that “pan-democrats could actually take the most benefit” if the bill was passed.

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.