The second vote on a motion of no confidence against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in 10 months was defeated last night after a five-hour debate in the Legislative Council.
The motion had been tabled by Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki who said the city had been "torn apart" since Leung had taken office.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor described the motion as "empty", sparking a fierce exchange between pan-democrats and Beijing loyalists.
The pan-democrats criticised Leung’s integrity, his efforts to tackle housing and poverty issues, his scandal-plagued administration and his meeting this month with Philippine President Benigno Aquino over a fatal hostage incident.
Information technology lawmaker Charles Mok said the latest controversy, over free television licences, was another example of the government becoming "the enemy of Hongkongers".
"The government has shown us it wants a screening mechanism not only in universal suffrage but also in issuing television licences, " Mok said. "Then it will hide behind the Executive Council without telling the people the reason behind its decision."
The motion secured majority support of 17-15 among directly elected lawmakers but lost 9-17 in the trade seats. Independent lawmaker Lam Tai-fai and Liberal Party legislators abstained. Legco rules require a motion to be passed in both types of constituencies for a vote to go ahead.
Carrie Lam stood in defence of Leung, saying Kwok’s criticism was “exaggerated” and “untrue”.
"I regret to see the legislature, for the fifth time since last year, directing attacks at the chief executive [with the aim] of undermining his constitutional status and credibility," she said.
Apart from two motions of no confidence, Leung has survived the pan-democrats' attempts to impeach him once and apply Legco's powers and privileges ordinance twice to investigate him.
Beijing-loyalist lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, also an Exco member, said the public was fed up with pan-democrats who “kept pulling the legs” of the government to inhibit its progress.