HK leader clashes with democrats ahead of vote

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HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leader was challenged to step down Thursday as he clashed with angry pro-democracy lawmakers over the government’s controversial electoral reform package, which goes to a vote next month.

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Chief executive Leung Chun-ying dodged the resignation question and told legislators the city was at a “critical juncture”, urging them to support the roadmap for leadership elections in 2017 — the first-ever public vote for the chief executive.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have vowed to block the package when it goes to the vote in June, calling it “fake democracy” as candidates for leader will be vetted by a loyalist committee, a stipulation laid down by Beijing.

Beijing’s decision sparked more than two months of street rallies late last year, which brought parts of the city to a standstill.

James To of the Democratic Party asked Leung whether he would step down “to take responsibility” if the package were rejected, a question which Leung did not answer directly.

“If Legco (Legislative Council) members do not endorse the proposal will people ask them to step down?” a riled Leung countered.

Two lawmakers were removed from the heated question-and-answer session for heckling, one holding a yellow umbrella, symbol of the democracy movement, and another shouting “Liar!”

Pro-democracy legislators had also brought cardboard cutouts of deer, printed with the Chinese character for “horse”.

They reflected the Chinese idiom, “Point at a deer, call it a horse”, used to refer to deliberate misrepresentation.

AFP

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