06/18/2015, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Hong Kong rejects Beijing electoral reform: only 8 votes in favor

Package wanted by mainland China, denies real democracy for the former British colony. Legislative Council vote a historic victory for the democratic movements. Pro-Beijing deputies leave hall ahead of vote over "a problem of internal communications." Emily Lau: "A clear signal for the central government and for the international community: We want our rights." Lee Cheuk-yan: "History is always on the side of democracy."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong’s parliament, the Legco, has blocked Beijing’s electoral reform package first presented about a year ago. As expected, the group of House Democrats voted for the compact "no", even gaining an unexpected more vote. But to surprise a group of about 30 deputies close to mainland China left the hall before the vote. So, the Chinese proposal got only eight votes in favor. Meanwhile, the area around the Legco seems to be back to normal after about three days of popular protests and occupations.

The vote took place yesterday afternoon. The 27 Democratic representatives kept their promises and opposed the reform: dr. Leung Ka-la, a member of an affiliated group in Beijing and representative of the medical industry of the former British colony voted with them. The deputies of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Federation of Trade Unions and the Business and Professionals Alliance  - which have always very close to the government, both local and central - left the Council a minute before vote.

Starry Lee Wai-king, president of the Alliance, said that this was due to a internal communication problem: "We wanted to be a full-team when we voted but due to some incomplete communications, our votes were not reflected in Legco." The five members of the Liberal Party; the deputy of the Federation Chan Yuen-han and two independents, instead voted in favor. In any case, even at full attendance the reform would not have been approved because, by law, it required at least two-thirds of the votes.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, a member of the Civic Party and the historic leader of the democratic movement, says: " As a matter of [Legco’s] procedures, absence is treated as the same as an opposing vote. This is a historic record of today’s voting. " The Emily Lau Wai-hing, chairman of the Democratic Party is of the same opinion: " As the …package has only got eight votes out of 70, it sends a clear message to the central government and the international community that a new reform should be launched immediately. " Lee Chauk-yan, a trade unionist and president of the Labour Party, comments: "History is on the side of democracy."

The Catholic Church has supported the Democrats. In a pastoral letter published in early June 2015, on the subject of the political impasse, the bishop of the diocese Card. John Tong called on all concerned to "remedy the democratic deficit " in the Beijing proposal. Interviewed by AsiaNews, a representative of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace has made it clear that "there is no true democracy without justice" and announced a protest in front of the Legislative Council in the days of the debate and the vote.

The demonstrations were held June 15 to 18, in a peaceful and democratic. Immediately after the vote, some groups abandoned the occupied area, but others remained until the meeting this morning "to tell the Parliament that the people of Hong Kong are not joking"

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