Occupy Central

New-town funding vote prompts people to cast ballots in unofficial referendum

Electors cite the Finance Committee vote as a reason for casting ballots in unofficial Occupy referendum and joining tomorrow's march

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 11:59am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 5:09pm

The much-disputed passage of initial funding for new towns last week drove more people to vote in an unofficial plebiscite on electoral reform on its last day.

Engineering student Roy Lau was one of those who said lawmakers' approval of HK$340 million to fund development in the northeast New Territories had prompted him to vote - and to join the annual July 1 march for democracy for the first time.

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"I was watching the Legislative Council meeting live on television and was disturbed by how Ng Leung-sing blatantly ignored the procedures and got the vote passed. This was like violence to me," Lau said after voting.

Watch: Hong Kong residents vote on the last day of unofficial referendum

During the meeting on Friday, Ng, chairman of Legco's Finance Committee, limited the time allowed for questions before ordering a vote.

Pan-democrats accused him of breaching the rules both times. The funding request was passed 29-2. Most of the roughly 20 pan-democrats present did not vote.

Chan Shui-lin, a housewife, said Ng was "not even qualified to be a lawmaker" as he had secured his Legco seat uncontested.

"He is only a functional constituency lawmaker who won zero votes. He does not represent me," Chan, 56, said.

She was open to taking part in a sit-in staged by Occupy Central if it happened, as she no longer had to take care of her son, who had grown up.

"Don't underestimate us housewives … I believe the movement can be peaceful although it will break the law," Chan said.

But not everyone was so enthusiastic. Four men demonstrated their opposition to the civil disobedience movement yesterday with some civil disobedience of their own - jumping into Victoria Harbour.

Occupy plans to mobilise protesters to blockade Central district if the government does not offer a satisfactory plan to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

In Tin Shui Wai, where a new polling facility was set up on the final day, a queue formed in the rain even before it opened.

School janitor Cheung Hung said having a station in her district made it easier for her to take her elderly parents to vote.

She was not confident universal suffrage could be introduced, though. "I moved to Hong Kong from the mainland 30 years ago. I know it's very unlikely for Beijing to give it the green light," Cheung said. "But I know it would be even harder if we gave up voting."

Over on Cheung Chau island, the balloting facility opened quietly. By noon, just 40 votes had been cast at CCC Cheung Chau Church Kam Kong Kindergarten as volunteer workers struggled to ward off mosquitoes in the heat.

One of the voters, Elizabeth Ng, 23, a nurse, noted that Cheung Chau residents were "more conservative or pro-establishment". "Cheung Chau is a stronghold for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and many of the older residents believe in it," she said.

Also yesterday, a group of 65 academics issued a petition collecting signatures against the white paper the State Council issued on June 10. Critics say the document undermines the "one country, two systems" principle.

Reporting by Ernest Kao, Jeffie Lam, Joyce Ng and Phila Siu