Only a scant 36 of the city's 70 legislators joined Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at a spring lunch reception at the Legislative Council building yesterday.
Leaders of the Liberal Party, James Tien Pei-chun; Civic Party, Alan Leong Kah-kit; Democratic Party, Emily Lau Wai-hing; and the pro-government Business and Professionals Alliance, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, were among the absentees.
The League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung did turn up - only to be expelled by security guards after throwing a copy of this year's policy address at the chief executive. Like the missile, however, the fracas appeared to go over Leung's head and he carried on, apparently unperturbed.
The chief executive was accompanied by nine of his ministers at the lunch, which was hosted by Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and came two days after the government's stamp duty bill was approved following a heated 35-hour debate.
Asked whether the lunch had failed to improve strained ties between the legislature and the executive, Tsang said: "The spring luncheon is one of our traditions; I was not hosting it in order to mend relationships."
The 36 lawmakers present included 10 from the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. The Federation of Trade Unions, the Business and Professionals Alliance, the Liberal Party, and the pan-democratic Labour and Democratic parties sent two representatives each.
In 2012, 34 of the city's 60 lawmakers attended the spring luncheon with outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, and a year ago, 44 of the 70 joined Leung's first spring lunch.
Tien was also among the many absentees at the chief executive's own spring reception at Government House on February 11. The Liberal leader, who accused Leung of banning his ministers from attending the party's 20th-aniversary dinner in December, said he wasn't "boycotting" the occasion yesterday.
"I had lunch with some members of the General Chamber of Commerce, but I might have been absent anyway because I had too much to do," Tien said.
Lau was at a students' forum at the University of Hong Kong discussing tomorrow's budget.
Labour Party vice-chairman Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he had had a meeting concerning special education. "I always do my best to spend time on practical work," he added.
The lunch was originally scheduled for February 7, but it was postponed after Leung decided to take a holiday from January 29 to February 10.
Labour Party member Cyd Ho Sau-lan said earlier she would be boycotting yesterday's lunch because it was "rude" of Leung to make people wait for him.
Leung also attended a dinner last night hosted by about 10 pro-establishment lawmakers. No Liberal Party members attended.