Demonstrators sparked public backlash by blocking traffic

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2011, 12:00am


Michael Chugani commented in Public Eye on the statement I made against groups of protesters who cut off traffic on major thoroughfares in Central and Queensway on the night of July 1 ('Leung leads straight down the wrong path on protest permits', July 6).

Chugani said that I would be taking a 'wrong path' if, as a result of their actions, these young protesters were denied future permits to demonstrate.

I am in constant touch with a wide cross-section of our young generation, including those from underprivileged families.

I believe it is important for them not to feel left behind, or disengaged in any other way.

In recent years, I have highlighted the woes of poverty and the widening income gap, and argued for a minimum wage, better upward mobility and more affordable housing.

While we try our hardest to make Hong Kong a better and fairer society for all, I condemn the protesters for their acts.

On the night of July 1, I was in the vicinity of the protest in Central and witnessed not just the inconvenience but the hazard that the public were forced to face.

Busloads of passengers were diverted from Connaught Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central to negotiate the slopes up and down the hill so as to skip these main roads.

When the demonstrators crossed the barriers to also occupy the east-bound section of Connaught Road Central, policemen had to give chase in the midst of fast oncoming traffic.

The occupation of the main roads in Queensway and Central took place at the end of the demonstration that started in the early afternoon - 50,000 to 70,000 demonstrators took part.

Any political point that the demonstrators wanted to make had been made that afternoon without the 3,000 who later cut off east-west traffic.

Any sympathy that the demonstrators gained from the public in the afternoon was lost that night.

The organisers of the occupations realised this and have since apologised to the public.

If occupation of main roads and cutting off traffic was a demonstration of people power, the backlash of public opinion that drew an apology from one of the organisers was even more powerful.

Leung Chun-ying, convenor of non-official members of the Executive Council