My Take

Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement may take on shades of Taiwan protest

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:22am

We all know how Occupy Central will play out if its organisers go ahead with it - exactly like the scenes of mayhem in Taipei we have just witnessed this week. Organiser and academic Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting has called it Occupy Central with Love and Peace. He sounds almost like a hippie.

His protest colleague and fellow academic, Dr Chan Kin-man, says all peaceful and legal means will be tried before resorting to civil disobedience, which by definition, is illegal.

But he warns they may have to push forward the planned "occupation" to this summer, rather than wait till the end of the year, as Tai has hinted. Apparently, the occupation of the parliament by Taiwanese student protesters and their failed bid to take over Taiwan's cabinet building has energised their counterparts in Hong Kong. So perhaps, besides blocking roads in Central, they will now make an attempt on the Legislative Council and the government headquarters as well.

Seeing what just happened in Taiwan, perhaps we can forgive the central government for switching the venue for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum for finance ministers and central bankers from Hong Kong to Beijing.

Wherever such mass protests occur and whether against Wall Street, the financial City of London, austerity measures in Madrid or Athens, or G7, G20 or World Trade Organisation meetings, they always end in tear gas, pepper spray and batons. Tai and Chan seem to have spent too much time in their ivory tower to think they can control their protest movement when it goes live. I don't question the two men's sincerity. I just wish they lived in the real world.

Since their beef is with the government, perhaps they should "occupy Admiralty" and the government headquarters instead of inconveniencing the public in Central. There is no way they can control the movement and all its hotheads once the protest starts. Chan says if the government is sincere about "genuine" democratic reform, there is no need to occupy Central district.

But of course, even if Chan and Tai change their mind now, they can't stop it. The Occupy movement has built up an unstoppable momentum of its own beyond their control.