Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was conspicuously absent from an electoral reform publicity stunt led by his top aide Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday.
An open-top, double-decker bus paraded 21 government figures through the streets of Siu Sai Wan to Shau Kei Wan and on to Tin Hau to encourage public involvement in the reform debate.
Alongside the chief secretary, the Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and constitutional minister Raymond Tam Chi-yuen led five other ministers, as well as undersecretaries and political assistants in swapping business attire for sporty outfits.
Despite the prominent line-up - and novel outfits - Leung's absence was hard to miss.
"The chief executive has an indispensable role in the reform consultation," said Lam after the two-hour event. "He leads our work and is concerned with the group's consultation progress."
Sponsored by the Eastern district council's $250,000 fund for promoting the Basic Law, the parade took place on the 24th anniversary of the promulgation of the mini-constitution.
"Today marks the one-month count down to the end of our five-month reform consultation," said Lam. "We hope citizens can speak up in the last month."
But despite the assertion, ministers appeared too busy distributing leaflets and souvenirs to passers-by to pay notice to protesters demanding the public be allowed to nominate candidates for the chief executive election.
In Siu Sai Wan, radical pan-democrat "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and others from the League of Social Democrats waved placards urging the government to include public nomination in its reform proposal.
In Shau Kei Wan, it was student activist group Scholarism's turn to protest; and in Tin Hau, the Defence of Hong Kong Freedom group.
Addressing the demands after the parade, Lam said any approach that watered down the function of the nominating committee would not comply with the Basic Law.
"[Today] is a good chance to promote the mini-constitution and reiterate the necessity for the electoral reform consultation to stay within the Basic Law framework," said Lam. "Any [reform] proposal which apparently usurps or waters down the function of the nominating committee, stipulated by the Basic Law's Article 45, is unlikely to comply with the mini-constitution."
She said there would be more events by the 18 district councils, each of which has HK$250,000 to promote the Basic Law.Topics: Basic Law Electoral Reform More on this: