A Legislative Council session to debate a non-binding motion urging the next chief executive to restart democratic reform was prematurely adjourned owing to low attendance.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting asked for a headcount to delay the meeting for 15 minutes, as Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki – who tabled the motion – was late. The motion was the last item on the day’s agenda.

Kwok apologised and said he was responsible for the incident. He said he was stuck in traffic and late by three minutes after the 15-minute postponement had ended.

File photo: HKFP.

At the start of the meeting at 9am on Thursday, there were only six pro-democracy camp lawmakers in attendance. The meeting was attended by 28 lawmakers – seven short of the required quorum.

Kwok said many of their colleagues went to the court to support the nine pro-democracy figures who are facing the common law charges of creating a public nuisance.

“I would not think that lawmakers, especially the pro-democracy camp, do not want to discuss this motion,” he said.

Kwok added that he tabled the motion once he knew he had been granted a slot to raise one right after the chief executive election on Sunday.

Kwok Ka-ki. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The motion urged the next chief executive to ask Beijing to retract its decision in August 2014 whereby leadership race candidates must be vetted through a nomination committee it largely controls.

“We wanted to have a discussion at the LegCo as soon as possible over this election, which is manipulated by Beijing and regretted by the Hong Kong people,” Kwok said, adding that he spent a lot of time preparing for it.

LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said he was disappointed by the incident and apologised to the public.

“It is the lawmakers’ decision as to whether to attend meetings, and they have to be responsible to their voters,” he said.

He said that if Kwok did not raise the motion in person, the meeting would still have ended, as there was nothing else on the agenda.

Helena Wong Pik-wan. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said the adjournment was unexpected and unfortunate.

She said the LegCo and the next chief executive both have constitutional roles on the topic of democratic reform, and that they hoped the debate would trigger discussion in society.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king of the DAB party said they had been prepared for the motion. She said that, other than Kwok, the lawmakers who did not attend were also responsible.

Wong Kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions said the premature adjournment was “unnecessary.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.