Occupy Central

Fast-track for Benny Tai's blockade for universal suffrage?

Public interest in next year's 'democracy blockade' could be gauged early, in July

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 5:27am

A controversial plan to occupy the roads in Central in demand of universal suffrage may be rehearsed on July 1, lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said.

Constitutional law associate professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, of the University of Hong Kong, initially floated the idea of staging a road blockade of at least 10,000 protesters to pressure the government to fully back universal suffrage last month.

But Tai had planned to stage the blockade next year.

"The Anti-CY Alliance is considering rehearsing it on July 1 this year," Chan told a forum in Mong Kok yesterday. The alliance is made up of more than 40 groups, including People Power and Citizens' Radio.

"We plan to occupy Central for 24 hours on July 1 … to see how big the turnout could be - be it 1,000, 3,000 or 5,000 people.

"In the 2003 [July 1 march], 500,000 people took to the streets. In the current political climate, if fewer than 3,000 or 5,000 protesters occupy [Central] for 24 hours, Tai may have to rethink the idea and adjust the model of his occupy Central plan."

Tai, who announced the idea in his Hong Kong Economic Journal column on January 16, yesterday refused to back the alliance's plan to stage a blockade a year earlier than he proposed.

Tai said: "It has yet to be the right timing. If someone wants to do it, I can't stop them. All I hope is that the action will be non-violent." He said he would not take part in the protest.

Tai added that social discontent might not "have reached the boiling point" by this July, since the government was unlikely to unveil its constitutional reform proposal for the 2017 chief executive election this year. He said only after the government tabled its proposal would it be the right time for the action.

Tai yesterday revealed that undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Lau Kong-wah had recently asked him for a meeting in the coming weeks.

Tai said he would invite Lau for a talk on the issue for a Ming Pao column. "I want to convince [officials] that Hong Kong people have a strong demand for universal suffrage," he said.