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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 10:50am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Occupy Central pioneer Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting sounds a dire warning

Hongkongers may emigrate or protest violently if Beijing rejects universal suffrage, activist says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 7:45am


  • Yes: 72%
  • No: 28%
29 Mar 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 627

If Beijing denies Hong Kong genuine universal suffrage, some residents might emigrate and others turn to a violent struggle for democracy, the man behind the Occupy Central civil disobedience plan warned yesterday.

Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a University of Hong Kong law professor, said: "We still hope that at the end we do not need to occupy Central. But if the movement is oppressed, or universal suffrage is denied, it may force some Hongkongers to turn to violent struggle or to emigrate."

His comments, which some activists support, was met with warnings about the risk to the city's economy. The business sector warned that some financial institutions were working on "contingency plans" to move offices out of Hong Kong.

Tai said the plan for a road blockade in Central next year would be only a final resort in pressing for democracy.

The goal was reform that would fulfil the world standard of universal suffrage but "does not [go against] the Basic Law", he said on a radio programme. Tai said it was too difficult to assess whether the recent remarks by Qiao Xiaoyang , chairman of the Law Committee under the National People's Congress, would drive more people to join the Occupy Central movement.

On Sunday, Qiao told a group of Beijing-loyalist lawmakers that Beijing would not accept a chief executive candidate who adopted a confrontational attitude towards the central government.

The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a core Occupy Central organiser, said Qiao's remark showed that Beijing's mindset was "going backwards".

Tony Tsoi Tung-ho, co-founder of the online House News portal, said: "Hongkongers have waited long enough for universal suffrage. I will join [the protest] because I can see no more reason to dodge [democracy]."

Hongkongers have waited long enough for universal suffrage. I will join [the protest] because I can see no more reason to dodge [democracy]
Tony Tsoi Tung-ho, co-founder of the online House News portal

But lawmaker Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance, said the planned protest would create an economic risk.

"I know that several multinational financial firms have prepared contingency plans," he said. "If the political risk is too big, they might move part of their offices out of Hong Kong."

Elsie Leung Oi-sie, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, said it was "common sense" that the chief executive should love the country and the city.

"It is a 'must', and not a new criterion imposed by Beijing," she said.

Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said Qiao's remarks had narrowed the space for talks between pan-democrats and Beijing, making Tai's plan seem a more acceptable option to pro-democracy campaigners.



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This article is now closed to comments

This so-called professor has clearly been brainwashed by the Americans. Democracy will never be able to bring positive change to Hong Kong. This imbecile should go home. Shame on the HKU.
If there is one thing I like good lawyers it's their ability to take on various perspectives. This consists of sizing up previous opinions of a presiding judge, the skills and track records of his adversary - a prosecuting attorney or plaintiff, the makeup of the jury and public sentiment of the case. Yes, don’t be sold easily by the claptrap of a total independent judiciary.
Given the uncertainties of all of the above, an attorney – glorified by mediocre lawyers themselves as officers of the court – must proceed in every case with cautious discovery as a trial progresses. Reading fickle public opinions that is easily manipulated by the media requires similar investigative spirit.
Obviously, Mr. Tai, a wooly headed academic has none of the good qualities of his profession. Instead, he persists in his own ideology with a singular track fanaticism. Any reasonably intelligent person could also offer another highly probable scenario. Given the intransigent, doctrinaire anti-Beijing sentiments of the constituents of the Occupy Central participants, impassioned advocacy to topple the central government – I had seen one headed by Anson Chan with “Tear down CCP” signs, our silent majority also fears scenes of Tahrir Square and Arab Spring.
This professor will fail in any course I taught in freshman class that requires critical inquiry, let alone allowing him to teach our students. Shame to HKU!
I'm afraid you have to take on mighty Motherland to achieve it! If the antagonists had been more vociferous against China's resumption of sovereignty over HK during the Sino British negotiations, I would have had more respect for them. It's patently unrealistic to expect HK to elect our Chief Executive as though we're an independent sovereign state. Our sovereign master is, and has been for more than six decades, under the single party rule of the CCP (ironically as a result of a popular uprising!). It's naive on our part to expect them to allow HK to elect an anti-CCP person as CE. And if they did allow that to happen, I can't imagine what would happen to HK without the Mainland's support. Are we prepared to achieve this so called "genuine" universal suffrage at all costs!! Can we accept something less? This all-or-nothing game is too much of a gamble!!
When this black lady in America called Rosa Parkers sat in the Whites only section of the bus, it's an act of civil disobedience against an unfair racially discriminatory law. May I know which law (traffic? Illegal assembly???) the learned Professor Tai wants changed when he mounts the Occupy Central movement? Or is the professor confused between civil disobedience and blackmailing?
.....and wacko comments like this may lead to less students at HKU......Clearly some of their faculty are not really familiar with democracy and its basic principles.......that would discourage me from studying there for sure :-/ Educating in law and encouraging people to break it......something wrong here......but interesting if that is how he suggest that one should deal with parts of the law and system that one doesn't like.....why stop at universal suffrage....just disobey law and order if you don't agree with it.....cause inconvenience and mayhem to your fellow citizens...irrespective if you have the popular support or not......
Will Hong Kong be a land of milk and honey once we have "genuine" universal suffrage as defined by the learned professor?
President Morsi of Egypt went to the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa together with his crew to seek help, to join as a member, to meet with President Xi of China. If Arab Spring in Tahrir Square led the Egyptians to where they are now, what lessons can we draw from it ?
hard times !
The planned 'Occupy Central' campaign /movement is designed to be a peaceful one joined by 10,000 Hongkongers who will have to sign a committement note (promising never using violence during the movement and will not respond by using violence even being physciially bullied by cops or rascals who hate their acts ---occupy certain areas in Central (probably around the MTR Central station and its exits )to demand a geniune universal suffrage for our chief executive election in 2017 and our lawmakers in 2020.No screening mechanism that any qualified candidates will be barred from entering the contest----at least not worse than the past chief executive elections which both Leung Ka-kit and Ho Chun-yan could take part in the final round ot the elections.Otherwise,no one can guarantee that violence will not ensue once the cops led by hawkish Tsang use tear gas bombs,batons,amphifiers and even plastic bullets or ...to disperse the gathering crowds which might be much more than just 10,000 in which some may be trouble-makers or agents trying to sabotage the protest.Right ?
I wish HK could achieve universal sufferage as soon as possible. But if the fruit of that is to produce so-called leaders like this Doctor, then it will only lead to disaster. To occupy a principal business district with a known consequence of causing major disruption to all in the name of civil disobedience, and to argue it is for democracy is nothing short of blind irresponsibility. It does not differentiate between the good and the bad, the young and the old, the rich or the poor. Everyone is affected, including the innocent. Statements made now with intent to threaten, to incite, to even announce a plan that will involve breaking laws in future, are already unlawful. People who indicated they will join in the plan are also breaking the law. Let us not permit an exception to the Rule of Law called civil disobedience that is non-violent.
@pfilm040@netvig... There're bound to be disagreement with the government's policies. The way to voice your discontent is not necessarily civil disobedience or starting a revolution. We ordinary folks just want to make a living. It's not fair that you should be taking such politically radical actions and we ordinary folks have to pay the price. If you're as democratic minded as you claim to be, please check the polls to see how many people in HK agree with the Occupy Central movement let alone a revolution! The CCP may be autocratic but they're not impotent or evil. Changes will have to come from within, not without!!



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