Fears blockade plan may end in bloodshed

Ex-policy adviser sees no room for compromise in increasingly tense debate on electoral reform

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 April, 2013, 5:24am

An academic's plan to block the roads in Central demanding genuine universal suffrage may end in bloodshed, a former government adviser warned yesterday.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, who used to head the Central Policy Unit, told RTHK that he feared the movement will "start peacefully but end in bloodshed".

And he wasn't optimistic about the passage of the electoral reform in the Legislative Council, given recent tension around the debate over achieving genuine universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive poll.

He added that the pan-democrats and Beijing were "on different planes". "I cannot see any room for compromise," he said. "The pan-democrats set the criteria at the Western [standard] of universal suffrage but the central government and the pro-establishment camp are looking to fit the electoral system into the goal of one country, two systems."

Separately, at a media lunch yesterday, Tourism Board chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok, who is also president of property developer Lai Sun, questioned whether taking "aggressive" action such as the planned blockade in the heart of the city was justified in the fight for democracy.

"We have to think about this carefully. What if these young people run onto the road and are hit by cars?" Lam asked. He also worried that the plan could deter tourists from coming to the city.

The proposal came in January from associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, of the University of Hong Kong. He is calling for at least 10,000 people to block traffic, in an "absolutely non-violent" way, in Central in July next year if the government does not deliver an acceptable proposal for universal suffrage.

Critics say the proposed blockade, and the ongoing strike at the container terminals in Kwai Tsing, reflect a general discontent among Hongkongers.

But Cheung Kong vice-chairman Victor Li Tzar-Kuoi dismissed the suggestion that Hong Kong is "becoming a city of moaners and protesters", in an interview with the General Chamber of Commerce Bulletin.

"In this wonderful, vibrant city that we call home, we have an enviable mass of hard-working people, seeking to better their own personal circumstances," Li said. "This important fact has been drowned out by media noise and hype portraying social disharmony."

Li is the son of billionaire Li Ka-shing, whose Hongkong International Terminals has been hit by the strike.