Hong Kong 'fake democracy' reforms defeated after pro-Beijing MPs walk out of Parliament due to mix-up

'Communication gap' leads to the reforms, which would see election candidates screened by a 1,200-member panel, being defeated by 28 votes to eight

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The Independent Online

Pro-democracy Hong Kong MPs have defeated the government's election reform plans, after a mix-up led to pro-Beijing legislators walking out of Parliament shortly before the vote.

Twenty-eight MPs voted against the proposal - which sparked mass demonstrations in the former British colony - after a lengthy debate, with just eight voting in favour.

The government needed at least 47 of the 70 MPs to vote in favour of the proposals, which would allow Hong Kong residents to vote for the city-state's chief executive, but only after candidates had been vetted and approved by Beijing.

But at the last moment, most of the MPs from parties that support Beijing walked out of the legislature chamber and did not cast any votes.

They later blamed it on "communication gap", explaining that they were waiting for a fellow politician who was ill to return to the chamber and had asked for a 15-minute break.

"If you look at their farcical behavior, you can't help but feel very sorry for Hong Kong that we are in the hands of such people," pro-democracy lawmaker Emily Lau said after the vote.

The bill's defeat comes following of the greatest year of unrest since Beijing took control in 1997 after a century and a half of British colonial rule.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets last year to protest at the central government's plans that all election candidates be screened by a 1,200-member panel of pro-Beijing figures.

Currently the leader of Hong Kong, the chief executive, is hand-picked by such a panel. The reforms did not satisfy pro-democracy campaigners, despite the offer of direct elections for the first time from 2017, who called it "fake democracy".

For 11 weeks, activists camped out on major roads in three neighbourhoods to demand universal suffrage but eventually left the streets after exhaustion set in and Hong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying, refused to offer any concessions.

Pro-democracy leaders said that meant Beijing was breaking its promise to eventually grant genuine universal suffrage to the city, a special administrative region of China with its own legal and financial system and civil liberties such as freedom of speech lacking on the mainland.

Associated Press