Lawmakers’ long-anticipated meeting with state officials over political reform began with sparks on Sunday as Beijing’s point man for Hong Kong affairs handed out copies of the city’s mini-constitution in response to those legislators who handed in petitions and supporting props to press for genuine democracy.
Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, ratcheted up the tension at the meeting by hitting back at pan-democratic lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who told Wang that the three-track proposal put forward by the Alliance for True Democracy was within the framework of Basic Law.
“The antique market in mainland is very busy now … we need to invite different experts to identify [them] as there are genuine [products] and counterfeits. Now I am giving Legislator Fung the genuine Basic Law,” Wang said, as he passed the pan-democrat a copy of the city’s mini-constitution.
The supporting prop provided by Fung was a three-track model symbolising the alliance’s suggestion that the public, political parties and nominating committee be allowed to put forward candidates for chief executive in the 2017 poll. The model was wrapped in a Basic Law cover, inspiring Wang’s response.
The drama happened in the first ten minutes of the meeting on Sunday afternoon, where 52 lawmakers – including 10 pan-democrats – were to exchange views on reform with Wang, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei and central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was also in attendance.
While pan-democrats had given advance notice that they would hand in letters and supporting props to the officials at the beginning of the meeting, which was open to media, Wang was equally prepared and he drew applause from pro-establishment lawmakers.
“The central government has stipulated … [officials] not to accept any gifts, but I think I should accept the presents from Hong Kong lawmakers” he said. “As mainland saying goes, it’s impolite not to return gifts, so I have also prepared some presents to reciprocate.”
Wang passed the nine lawmakers each a copy of Basic Law as they submitted their petition letters and props to the officials.
While Democrats Sin Chung-kai and Helena Wong Pik-wan handed in a statement by hunger strikers who on Sunday end their 16-day fast to press for democracy, Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun was the only Beijing-loyalist who submitted letters that stated the party’s stance on reform.