Protest brings vote decision to a head

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am


More than 1,000 protesters took to the streets yesterday in a final attempt to head off a legal amendment that could scrap by-elections for Legislative Council vacancies.

As a two-month public consultation on the proposal ended yesterday, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung, said the government would not rule out revising its proposals for new procedures to fill Legco vacancies.

The protesters, including pan-democrat supporters, marched from Causeway Bay to the government offices in Admiralty, chanting slogans and calling on Lam to step down and to withdraw the proposals; these include giving the seat of a departing lawmaker to one of his or her running mates in the previous poll or prohibiting a lawmaker who resigns from contesting the seat in the resulting by-election.

The government proposed scrapping by-elections after five pan-democratic lawmakers resigned last year to trigger by-elections they hoped would be a de facto referendum on democracy. The government says the manoeuvre was an abuse of the electoral system and a waste of public money.

The administration tried to rush the bill through Legco but, after the annual July 1 rally drew the biggest turnout since 2004 - 200,000 by one estimate - it bowed to public pressure to hold a consultation.

Lam said he had attended 13 forums during the consultation period. They included a public forum held at the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui on September 1 which was gatecrashed by masked protesters.

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said yesterday the force's investigation of the gatecrashing incident was continuing.

A masked protester on yesterday's march said he had participated in the gatecrashing of the Science Museum, but had not been approached by police so far.