• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:29am
Occupy Central
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Occupy Central campaign should be called off

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 5:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 8:35am

If a campaign fails to achieve what it wants, it is natural to ask what went wrong. We are not sure if organisers of Occupy Central have done any soul searching on the civil disobedience movement. What is certain, though, is that there are growing doubts whether it should continue.

After Beijing imposed a tougher-than-expected electoral framework for the 2017 chief executive poll, Benny Tai Yiu-ting conceded the movement's strategy had failed. He also said public support was waning. The remarks have caught the pan-democrat allies by surprise, and sparked confusion over whether Tai was planning an exit. The university academic later clarified that the fight would go on.

Few would disagree that Occupy Central has failed. Co-founded by Tai and two others, the campaign seeks to press Beijing for what it calls genuine universal suffrage by threatening to paralyse the city's business district with 10,000 people. Although opinion polls show the community does not endorse such tactics, it has an appeal to some pan-democrat supporters: about 800,000 people joined its mock referendum on the preferred electoral model in June.

Those familiar with Beijing's thinking have long warned against such a step. They say Chinese leaders are not likely to yield to threats. From Beijing's view, Occupy Central is fraught with the danger of political interference from abroad. Worse, it risks being hijacked by radical groups and may end in bloodshed.

Evidently, Occupy Central did not bring Hong Kong closer to democracy. Some even accuse it of pushing Beijing into tighter restrictions. Despite the threats of class boycotts and protests, the National People's Congress Standing Committee is not going to change its decision. There is nothing wrong if the campaign is turned into a long-term battle aimed at instilling a stronger sense of democracy among the public. But if it pushes ahead with the occupy plan, it will bring chaos to the business district. Participants may also land in jail. However lofty the goal, it does not justify unlawful activities.

The people are understandably dissatisfied with the stringent electoral framework. They have every right to take to the streets and get themselves heard. But they should express their opinion in a peaceful and lawful manner. There are other legitimate means to pressure Beijing and the Hong Kong government for democracy. The organisers should call off the occupy plan.

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This article is now closed to comments

ubifrancehk
Why don't you write an editorial to ask Beijing to abide by the law as well ? As demonstrated by Michael Davis in your own paper, Beijing's decision disregards all the legal framework it set by its own. Don't always beat the same dog.
lucifer
I agree, and just like the campaign of the students and other citizens who protested in favor of political reform in Beijing in June of 1989...they failed to achieve their goals and were gunned down and run over by tanks for it. I suppose Occupy Central, which actually seems kind of dated will disband and some other form of civil disobedience will take its place. Most likely it will not be organized or willing to comply with the government's rules and will pose a greeter risk to social stability than Occupy Central ever did. The author, who preferred to be unnamed, is a naive fool. I am scared to see what is on the horizon.
LunarRepublic
If Occupy Central happens, Hong Kong's situation might get worse.
If absolutely no one does anything to keep the CCP from digging its claws into Hong Kong, Hong Kong's situation WILL get worse.
edpranger
Is this the People's Daily or the SCMP?
pliu
Occupy Central is not the answer to more genuine democracy for HK. I was against OC before the NPC's decision and I am still against OC now. I believe it will do more harm than good for HK. The rationale behind Occupying the financial district of HK is to pressure Beijing on electoral reform. The aim is to do sufficient damage so Beijing will acquiesce to their demands. Otherwise, what is the point of OCl?! That means Hong Kong's reputation as an international financial centre, ease of doing business and economy are all at risk of being undermined.
If there is a reasonable chance that these confrontational tactics might work, then it may be worth the sacrifice. However, I am not convince at all of this. Just look at what all the demonstrations, OC Poll and the disgraceful behavior of some lawmakers have achieved?! Absolutely nothing in the eyes of Beijing! All it has done is to embolden Beijing to take a tougher stance on democracy for HK.
At the moment, there is real sympathy for the democracy cause, especially amongst moderate mainstream voters. However, if OC goes ahead, it is in danger of losing support and alienate a large section of society.
A smarter move would be to boycott the 2017 CE elections and simultaneously organize a non-participation poll. If >50% of registered voters abstain from voting, this will make any election illegitimate and seriously embarrass Beijing. This passive and non-confrontational approach is much more likely to be effective than OC.
53ca7d2c-531c-4020-8daa-74410a320969
@pliu, these are very good thoughts. I suspect that this is what 'Occupy Central' will end up doing. I don't think we should be too distracted by the term 'Occupy Central' - it's just a label, an international brand used to attract attention. I'm sure there will be some kind of assembly, but probably only symbolic - not really 'occupation' and probably not even in the Central district. Benny Tai has himself suggested ideas similar to yours - he mentioned setting up an unofficial civic CE election, so we could have our own popularly-elected Chief Executive who would have more legitimacy than the one effectively appointed by Beijing. Like you, I hope it moves in this direction.
p.rennat
Yes, of course he can get more money to do this (from outside HK).
Tai just follows his western leaders and copies Occupy New York, Occupy London, etc. Is he ever capable of an original thought?
53ae0c69-5e94-4706-924a-743c0a320969
And I certainly do hope that Mr Lai's thought/mind is not representative of most HKers who were born and educated here. Otherwise so help us god.
mercedes2233
Who is Mr Lai?
the sun also rises
If not for this article, many readers might forget that the editor-in-chief of this long-time prestigious paper is a Mainlander whose thought/mind is different from most Hongkongers who were born and educated here in the past decades ! Right ?

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