Occupy activists refuse to budge from HSBC

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:23pm


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Occupy Central protesters say they will keep fighting to remain in a public walk-through area beneath HSBC's headquarters in Central, no matter how a court rules on the bank's request for an injunction.

'We will fight until the end, and will not move out even if an eviction order is issued by the court,' said musician Leung Wing-lai, 30, one of the core members of the movement. 'Our movement aims to release a capitalist-controlled public area.'

Leung did not rule out the possibility that clashes might occur if police officers were deployed to forcefully evict the protesters, or to clear away their tents, personal belongings and banners.

The plaza is the bank's property, but was designated a public passage in an agreement made with the government in 1983.

In June, HSBC asked the High Court to rule that it was entitled to recover possession of the plaza - which the bank says the occupiers have used without its consent since October last year.

The bank said the occupation - which spans several pitched tents around communal areas where activists sleep, work and eat - posed a number of safety issues.

For example, HSBC argued, loose debris like rolling bottles might cause injuries, and their cooking on gas fires raised the fire risk.

Responding to the bank's arguments, Leung said that occupiers took turns to clean up the 'commune' and to keep it safe.

Last month, lawyer Victor Dawes, for HSBC, asked the court to rule in its favour in a summary statement instead of going through a full trial. But the judge allowed defendants some time to file their replies and adjourned the case until next Monday.

The first of four defendants in the case has been named the 'occupiers of the ground floor of 1 Queen's Road Central' to accommodate protesters who wish to join the suit.

But another protester, Wong Hin-yan, 27, said: 'We won't join it. Lawsuits always favour the rich, and discriminate against the poor. Also, occupy movements never need legitimacy granted by the government.'

The other three defendants are site residents Mui Kai-ming, brother of late Canto-pop singer Anita Mui Yim-fong, self-employed financial analyst Ho Yiu-sing and Wong Chung-hang, a homeless man.

At present, about 10 occupiers - a drastic fall from the more than 100 who lived on the site when the campaign started - remain, organising social activities for interested parties.

The movement was inspired by Occupy Wall Street in New York, which spawned similar rallies around the world.

The Hong Kong occupiers describe themselves as a 'self-governing' community in which decisions are made through discussion and voting.