My Take

Hong Kong reform vote blunder was more farcical than fatal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 1:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 June, 2015, 9:46am

They said they were saddened as if they had just acted out a tragedy but it looked to most people it was more like one big farce.

A historical vote on democracy has turned into one hell of a joke, thanks to the incompetence of dozens of pro-government lawmakers.

Well, by upsetting a sombre occasion, at least our pro-establishment lawmakers managed to provide some last-minute entertainment with the voting down of the government's electoral reform package.

When the time came for a vote, about 30 of them walked out, not realising the ballot could not be adjourned because there were enough lawmakers left inside the Legco chamber to meet the quorum.

The bizarre action was taken apparently because Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, vice-chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance, asked his colleagues to wait for rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat to cast his vote. He had the support of Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Even three-year-olds could do better maths. By trying to gain one vote, they risked 30. Lau said he was sick and apologised for being late. Well, at least the final vote was 28-8, in blocking the reform package. Such auspicious numbers as double 8 must appeal to New Territories men like Lau.

His bumbling Legco colleagues could have learned a thing or two from their pan-democratic rivals. Instead of risking 30 votes, a few of them could have jumped up and started making speeches - that is, to filibuster until Lau showed up. Alas, no one from the pro-establishment camp had the wit or presence of mind to do that.

Now they should thank their pan-democratic rivals. But for the unity of the pan-dems, they could have been sinners of a thousand years instead of being clowns of a thousand years as they are now.

Why? Suppose the pan-dems weren't so united as they had been and a few defected by voting for the reform package. The government would have had the requisite number of votes to pass the proposal but then, the clowns walked out to wait for Lau ... and the package was blocked!

Thanks to the united pan-dems, they committed a farcical blunder rather than a fatal one.