One of the legislators from the pro-Beijing camp has blamed the unsuccessful walkout of pro-establishment lawmakers over a key political reform vote on people who were “incurably dumb”.

Liberal Party legislator and former party chair James Tien publicly addressed the outcome of Thursday’s vote, which saw 28 Legislative Council members reject the government-backed plan for chief executive elections and only eight vote in favour of the motion, after most of the pro-establishment members walked out of the chamber ahead of the vote.

Five Liberal Party members – including Tien – and three others, remained in the chamber because they did not receive the message from their colleagues telling them to leave, in a bid to force a 15-minute recess.

Tien, however, offered a simpler explanation for the Thursday’s fiasco: human stupidity. On his official Facebook page, Tien last night uploaded a picture of a pig wearing glasses, accompanied by the caption: “There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but mainly people are just incurably dumb.”

“There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but mainly people are just incurably dumb.” Photo: James Tien Facebook.

When asked if the other pro-Establishment politicians blamed his party for the confusion, Tien told RTHK: “I blame those who told people to walk out… No one knew anything and the reason [for leaving] was never explained.” Far from facing Beijing’s wrath over the farcical scenes, which resulted in 28 votes against the motion and only eight for, Tien claimed that the central government’s liaison office commended him for his actions.

Tien also questioned the reason for the walkout, which was to delay the vote until legislator and Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat arrived. “Why wait for Lau Wong-fat’s vote? The resolution would not have passed with or without his vote. If I were late would they have waited for me?”

Referring to his fellow lawmakers who left the chambers, Tien said “they must explain to society, and especially Hong Kong people” the reasons for Thursday’s debacle.

On Friday morning, Tien reaffirmed on DBC radio that he and his party were unaware of the walkout plan. Suggesting that the resultant confusion illustrated unnecessary divisions within the pro-Establishment camp, Tien encouraged the various parties coalesce under a single leadership.

The Liberal Party legislators were notably absent from the pro-Establishment press conference following the vote, and a cacophony of theories soon attributed the apparent miscommunication to an array of Machiavellian machinations and personal vendettas between Tien and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, as well as New People’s Party leader Regina Ip.

In 2014, Tien was ejected from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference after he called for Leung’s resignation, in light of the pro-democracy Occupy protests that had recently erupted and Leung’s failure to address public concerns about proposed electoral reforms.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others