Hong Kong protestors square off in democracy debate
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 23:34
Hong Kong: Thousands of protestors chanting slogans and blaring vuvuzelas faced off today as Hong Kong legislators debated a controversial plan to enact limited political reforms in the Chinese territory.

Police surrounded the legislature with barricades and scores of officers kept pro-democracy and pro-Beijing activists apart as lawmakers inside thrashed out the plan, which would give voters a bigger say in Hong Kong's running.

After weeks of political manoeuvring, the reform plan is likely to be adopted by the legislature although critics complain it does not go far enough and are calling for full democracy for the city of seven million people.

"Officials say the vote will mark a historic moment for Hong Kong. But how come Hong Kong people are not involved in this historic moment? How come they are not consulted?" pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said.

The vote was adjourned tomorrow after the debate dragged on late today evening.

Lawmakers in support of the plan were mobbed by pro-democracy campaigners as they left the Legislative Council building escorted by police officers after the meeting.

"Shameful! Shameful!" the protesters shouted, pointing their fingers and throwing waste paper at the legislators.

Hong Kong, which was handed over by Britain in 1997, has a legal and administrative system independent from mainland China but its constitutional development falls under communist Beijing's control.

While the financial and trading hub in southern China has some direct democracy, power ultimately rests in the hands of a Beijing-backed chief executive and business elites.

The reform plan has split the opposition camp. Moderates from the Democratic Party, whose support looks set to ensure the plan's passage, were condemned by harder-line lawmakers who want a firm timetable for universal suffrage.


First Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 23:34

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