Only 27 out of 70 lawmakers graced a lunch meeting with the chief executive yesterday in a record-low turnout for the legislative year, which ends next month. It was nine lawmakers fewer than three months ago.
The Democratic Party's Dr Helena Wong Pik-wan and the Civic Party's Dr Kwok Ka-ki were the only pan-democrats who attended the lunch held at the Legislative Council building. All the lawmakers of the Labour Party, People Power and the Beijing-loyalist Liberal Party gave the gathering a miss.
The poor turnout came three days after Beijing published a white paper stressing its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong. Pan-democrats slammed the paper for interfering with the city's autonomy, but Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dismissed that view, endorsing the paper for outlining how "one country, two systems" could be implemented to benefit Hong Kong and the nation.
Pro-government lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the low attendance highlighted the strained ties between the legislature and the executive branch. "In the past, colleagues would come for lunch and pass their petitions to the chief executive … but today, they didn't even come to scold him."
Before the lunch, the Civic Party's Kwok gave Leung a cardboard copy of the international standards for universal suffrage as defined by the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Kwok said Leung accepted it but snubbed him, saying that the Basic Law was more important than the international covenant in the city's electoral reform.
Asked if her party was boycotting the meeting with Leung, the Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she was skipping it to protest against the government's New Territories new-town plans.
"The government has ignored the villagers' demands … It is painful to sit down with such a barbaric government," she said.
"So while we will maintain communication with officials, I don't think this kind of social gathering is necessary for us.
"We will just do the pragmatic things, just as we filed a letter to the development minister [yesterday], asking him to engage with villagers affected by the new-town project."
Last month, Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong said relations between the administration and the legislature had reached a "critical point", following the cancellation of a Legco meeting after radical lawmakers hurled insults at Leung.