June 4 motion in Hong Kong’s Legco to remember Tiananmen crackdown defeated by pro-Beijing lawmakers
More than 30 of the 57 lawmakers either voted no or abstained, making it the 18th year the motion to express disapproval at the central government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989 was not passed
Pro-democracy lawmakers on Wednesday urged an “end to one-party dictatorship” while acknowledging that these calls would displease Beijing as they proposed a motion at the Legislative Council to remember the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
But their move was defeated by the pro-Beijing camp, as 27 lawmakers said no and six abstained from casting their ballot out of the 57 who took part in the vote. Only 26 members of the 68-member council are pro-democracy.
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It marked the 18th year the motion had been tabled and not passed, with the three-hour debate featuring impassioned speeches by the pro-democracy camp. Their rivals remained largely silent.
The non-binding motion sought to express disapproval at the central government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the centre of Beijing on June 4, 1989, in which many activists died.
Though the death toll may never be known, hundreds, maybe more than 1,000, died.
The Civic Party’s Tanya Chan, who raised the motion, referred to how Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole deputy to the nation’s top legislative body, and Wang Guangya, Beijing’s former top official in charge of the city’s affairs, said in recent months that Hongkongers who chant slogans in favour of ending “one-party rule” in China are breaking the law and should not be allowed to run for political office.
“There are more and more ‘red lines’ drawn by Beijing … which is trying to undermine our rule of law,” Chan said. She said the central government wanted to turn the city into a place where rules are set by its officials.
Pro-democracy activists in the city have traditionally used the run-up to June 4 to lobby support for their cause and hold peaceful memorial ceremonies. On the day itself, there is a mass vigil at Victoria Park.
At Legco on Wednesday, pro-democracy lawmakers pushing for the motion included Lam Cheuk-ying, Leung Yiu-chung, Au Nok-hin and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen.
Au said: “Facing increasing political suppression, Hong Kong citizens would never forget the wounds of the June 4 massacre.”
Members of the two largest pro-Beijing parties, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions, remained silent and voted against the motion.
But a few pro-Beijing lawmakers abstained from voting and spoke up. They included Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who broke ranks during last year’s debate to back the motion, and Abraham Razack of Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.
Razack raised eyebrows by reading out Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, an ode to those who died during the first world war. He said the poem was a dedication for the “Tiananmen Mothers”, a group made up of family members of those who died in the crackdown.
Ho praised the student protesters and described them as people who loved the country and wished for it to be better.
“I believe that their spirits in heaven would be gratified when they see the development and achievements of the country today,” he said.