Hong Kong passed an electoral reform package yesterday, winning over enough skeptical opposition lawmakers to back changes that could pave the way for universal suffrage in 2017 as promised by Beijing.
It was the first time Hong Kong’s legislature had passed major reforms to electoral arrangements since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. A previous attempt in 2005 was voted down by opposition democrats.
“This lays down a milestone in Hong Kong’s democratic development,” said Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權), who called the deal a “historic moment.”
“Disputes and infighting over political reform have plagued our society for the past two decades ... it’s now clear that consensus and reform are possible,” Tsang told reporters.
The package caused a major rift among pro-democracy lawmakers, some of whom say it does not go far enough toward universal suffrage and deflates their demand for full-scale reform.
“This is the darkest day in Hong Kong’s democratic development,” yelled radical pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Chan (陳偉業), before storming out of the legislature.
Chan was one of 12 pro-democracy lawmakers voting against the package.
Since 1997, the struggle for full democracy has been a central and divisive theme in local politics, pitting liberal advocates and democrats against Beijing’s Communist leaders, but the new deal — that sharply divided various pro-democracy factions — could usher in a new era of warmer ties between moderate democrats and Beijing, analysts said.
“The passage of the reform proposal is the first time that the democrats have reached any kind of political agreement with Beijing,” said Ma Ngok (馬嶽), a political scientist at Hong Kong’s Chinese University. “It’s a historic compromise and this can serve as a ... starting point or rapport between the two sides.”
After a marathon debate in the local 60-seat legislature stretching over three days, 46 lawmakers, including most members of Hong Kong’s main opposition Democratic Party, cast a final vote in support of the package which required a two-thirds majority.
The chairman of the Democratic Party, Albert Ho (何俊仁), denied his party had sold out and said negotiations with Beijing officials that helped broker this compromise deal would continue.
“We hope more members of different democratic groupings can take part” in future talks with Chinese officials, Ho said.
SECRET OUT: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday accidentally revealed that the infections occurred at the ministry’s Taoyuan General Hospital The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the fifth COVID-19 case in a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital, where four other medical workers were confirmed to have been infected over the past week. The latest case is a nurse who had tested negative on Tuesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference. However, on Thursday, she developed symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a cough, and a second test yesterday found that she was infected, Chen said. She is the head nurse of a ward where two
VIGILANCE: While two of the cases are family members of a nurse, there is no sign of community spread and the source of infection is identifiable, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four new domestic COVID-19 cases associated with a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital. Since the first case was identified on Tuesday last week, five healthcare workers — two doctors and three nurses — at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Taoyuan General Hospital have tested positive for the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that two of the four new cases are the husband and daughter of a nurse (case No. 863) who had earlier been confirmed to have COVID-19. The husband (case No. 864)
Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan, is opening its first store in Taiwan today. The three-story Don Don Donki store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, which operates 24 hours a day, has already created 400 jobs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said in a press release. Many Taiwanese, including Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), consider a trip to Don Quijote an essential stop in Japan. “I have been to Don Quijote at least 10 times myself,” Huang said yesterday at a news conference announcing the store’s opening. “They are rendering an important service, because we cannot travel
‘CONTAINED’: The CECC is not considering locking down the hospital where the infections were detected, as their source has been found, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported one new domestic COVID-19 case, a doctor at a hospital in northern Taiwan where three other medical workers were confirmed to have the disease over the past week. The new case — No. 856 — is a doctor who had treated a COVID-19 patient together with case No. 838, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. Case No. 838, confirmed as a locally infected COVID-19 case on Tuesday, was the first case in the hospital cluster, and later infected his partner, who is a nurse at the same