Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying survived an unprecedented impeachment bid at the Legislative Council over allegations he lied about illegal structures at his Peak residence.
After an eight-hour debate, legislators voted down the motion - the first against a chief executive - on the strength of mainly pro-establishment functional constituency legislators.
Thirty-two functional constituency legislators opposed the motion moved by "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung while nine voted for it. Of 33 geographical constituency legislators, 18 were for it and 14 against.
In moving the motion, Leung had steered clear of his usual political theatrics but did have a T-shirt reading "We topple a tyrant" to add weight to his words.
"Leung Chun-ying has intentionally given false statements over his illegal structure saga in the legislature," his namesake foe declared, calling that "dereliction of constitutional duty."
He also accused the chief executive of using dishonest means to win the election by covering up on the illegal structures.
Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood's Frederick Fung Kin-kee backed that line, saying the illegal structures cover-up was unacceptable as was the fact citizens were lied to.
Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing said: "Leung Chun-ying not only lied to citizens but he also lied for the purpose of winning the chief executive position ... by attacking his rival Henry Tang Ying-yen over the latter's illegal structures in his residence."
While their words did not change the outcome, People Power lawmaker Chan Chi-chuen said the impeachment move was a symbolic step as Leung was the first chief executive to be put in this position.
The pro-establishment's Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong took a predictably opposite line, saying Leung Chun-ying had no motive to lie.
She believed Leung had truly forgotten about the illegal structures just like many men "who are always on business trips have forgotten their anniversaries."
The DAB's Ip Kwok-him said the action was only a political show for pan- democrats, while the Liberal Party's Vincent Fang Kang said there would be chaos if Leung stepped down.
By then, security officers outside the legislature had been forced to step between rivals arguing over may have been paid to turn out for a rally.
And anti-Leung protesters, including Democratic Party lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan and Sin Chung-kai, were in Legco's protest zone shouting for Leung to quit.
But they were answered by administration backers under the Voice of Loving Hong Kong banner, who shouted for the pair to go.
Meanwhile, about 300 people joined a Civic Human Rights Front rally outside the Tamar government headquarters demanding Leung should resign. That ran into late into the night.
Watching a feed from the legislature earlier, they booed as Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor defended Leung.
The chief executive did not respond to media questions about the impeachment motion at a public function last night in Central. By then, he had heard Carrie Lam says the impeachment move, while a serious matter, had been a waste of time after two earlier legislative attempts to denounce the chief executive had failed.