Ryan Saavedra reports: Voters in Hong Kong took the polls in record numbers on Sunday, giving pro-democracy parties stunning gains as numerous high-profile pro-Beijing officials lost their seats.
“Almost three million voters sent the Carrie Lam administration an unmistakable message on Sunday, flooding to the ballot box in record numbers to vote against pro-establishment candidates and usher in what by all indications should be a staggering victory for the pro-democracy camp,” Public broadcaster RTHK reported. “While official results are yet to be announced, partial counts suggest that opposition candidates should win an overwhelming majority of the 452 District Council seats up for grabs, and may have a winning ratio of as high as nine-to-one.”
RTHK added, “Most analysts had expected the opposition to make significant gains with the government’s popularity ratings at an all-time low, but no one was predicting that the pro-democracy camp would win a majority of seats – much less almost all of them.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that pro-democracy candidates had won 395 of the 452 seats that were up for grabs and that pro-democracy parties were set to control all 18 district councils.
“Almost 3 million people in a city of 7 million queued to vote in the election held every four years, or 71.2 per cent of registered voters,” The Sydney Morning Herald added. “The voter turnout was almost double that seen in the previous election, and attributed to young people voting for the first time.” CNN reported that “outspoken pro-government legislators Michael Tien and Junius Ho both conceded defeat in their districts” and “Holden Chow, Horace Cheung, Vincent Cheng, and Edward Lau also appeared to be part of a string of upsets from the pro-Beijing DAB party.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted support for Hong Kong, writing, “With their vote, the people of Hong Kong delivered a strong rebuke of the authoritarian policies of Beijing. They came out in record numbers, nearly double the last election, to support pro-democracy candidates. When people have a choice, they will always choose freedom.”Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing Blinks: Hong Kong Leader Leung Chun-ying Offers Talks with Protesters as He Refuses to Accept Calls for Him to ResignPosted: October 2, 2014
James Legge writes: Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader has offered talks to student leaders whose demonstrations against what they say is China’s attempt to gerrymander elections have brought the territory to a standstill.
“This is a war for public support. We must show Leung that we have the support of the masses.”
— Student Leader Joshua Wong
Speaking at the end of a fifth day of protests, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying refused to meet demonstrators’ demands to resign but said his top official, Carrie Lam, would hold a meeting with students to discuss political reforms.
“I hope both sides will be satisfied,” said Ms Lam, the city’s Chief Secretary. “Students had wanted a public meeting but I hope that we can have some flexibility to discuss details.” Occupy Central continued to demand Mr Leung’s resignation, and reject Beijing’s framework, but said it “welcomes the news that Ms Lam will meet with the students” and “hopes the talks can bring a turning point to the current political stalemate”.
“In any place in the world, if there are any protesters that surround, attack, or occupy government buildings like police headquarters, or the chief executive’s office… the consequences are serious”
— Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Mr Leung’s position had been bolstered earlier in the day when the People’s Daily newspaper, a Communist Party mouthpiece, published an editorial saying the party was “very satisfied” with his performance and had full confidence in his leadership. It also referred to the protest as “illegal activities” which threatened to bring chaos.
Nonetheless, the promise of face-to-face talks is an unusual concession by the Chinese government, and demonstrates their concern that the protests in one of Asia’s most important economic centres will continue over the weekend.
As Mr Leung spoke, hundreds of police officers stood at the barricade around his office, faced by thousands of protesters. Some of the police wore riot shields, and earlier in the day officers were seen carrying tear gas and rubber bullets into the area. Read the rest of this entry »