• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Big business and organisers joust over cost of Occupy Central to Hong Kong

Hong Kong could lose billions and reputation, but others say lack of universal suffrage will cost more

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 11:06am

Big business and the Occupy Central movement clashed yesterday over the price the city would pay if the pro-democracy movement brought the heart of Hong Kong to a halt.

Four business groups warned that Occupy Central could cost the city billions. But Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a founder of Occupy Central, countered that the economic cost of failing to achieve universal suffrage in 2017 could be higher.

The movement hopes to have at least 10,000 protesters ready to block roads into Central in July next year if the government fails to deliver proposals for "genuine" universal suffrage.

Yesterday, the Beijing-loyalist Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, which together represent more than 9,000 businesses, each took out half-page advertisements in three Chinese-language business newspapers - the Hong Kong Economic Times, Hong Kong Economic Journal and Sing Tao Daily.

The association's statement was headed: "Do not let the Occupy Central act destroy Hong Kong's economic prosperity." It quoted "an academic analysis [that] the damage that Occupy Central would do to our economy is beyond estimation. The financial sector estimates that if the stock market is hamstrung … the loss in transactions could amount to tens of billion dollars in one hour".

The financial sector estimates that if the stock market is hamstrung … the loss in transactions could amount to tens of billion dollars in one hour

The city's long-term competitiveness and economic stability could be undermined, it added.

The chamber slammed Occupy Central for "challenging the spirit of the rule of law, which the city's survival has depended on".

It added: "All of our daily activities must be based on the law … [otherwise] there will be chaos, and the lives of the majority of Hongkongers will be affected."

The groups urged rational discussion of "controversial issues".

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shirley Yuen said: "Many companies choose to do business here because of our rule of law, expertise and stable environment.

"If businesses find their operations could be undermined by demonstrations, this could have a detrimental effect on our economy and future investment decisions … One incident is enough to overturn [Hong Kong's] long-established reputation."

A Federation of Hong Kong Industries spokeswoman echoed that view, stressing that "the business sector was worried Occupy Central could add uncertainty to our economy".

Separately, Basic Law Committee deputy director Elsie Leung Oi-sie criticised Occupy Central as "dictatorship by the minority" that "gambled on the well-being of Hongkongers".

Tai, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, responded by saying: "It appears they have some misunderstanding about our plan. We are not anarchists; Occupy Central is a restricted and conditional plan for civil disobedience. If there is no universal suffrage … the long-term economic effect might be bigger [than occupying Central]."



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This article is now closed to comments

Brainless Elsie is at it again. If "dictatorship by the minority" is a bad thing, how good is it that our votes count for nothing, Beijing stacks the legislature with minority interests and they rule the whole of Hong Kong?
hard times !
it is just 'much ado about nothing 'for the CEO of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce,Ms Shirley Yeung to say that once there is an 'Occupy Central' Movement staged in Central----which actually would be (if there is no geniune universal suffrage in 2017 for our chief executive election) staged as a last resort only,it would cost Hong Kong to lose billions of dollars since the stoppage of our stock exchange will cost us much ! Yet as all know,the Movement is just a plan,or a last resort only,why so scared or worried about it ? I wonder.If there is really an'Occupy Central' Movement, the area to be affected is still restricted to the spots around Central's MTR station's exits only---not the whole Central of course since the number of participants is limited to just 10,000 and a commitment has to be signed by all participants that it will be and should be a peaceful gathering though it may be charged as illegal gathering or blocking or streets---minor offences indeed ! Why call wolf at this time ? Beijing's pressure is really huge !
Elsie might have been referring to Beijing??
Quote: "The movement hopes to have at least 10,000 protesters ready to block roads into Central in July next year if the government fails to deliver proposals for "genuine" universal suffrage." ~~~~ so, pro-democracy movement would bring the heart of Hong Kong to a halt disrupting life along the route, as some fear. May I ask, "If the Government is not able to deliver your Proposals, what's next? Block more roads in larger scale, or bring HK to a halt?"
hard times !
You should actually say byebye to your readers here for your naive mindset ! Never would any sensible residents/citizens threaten the administration to conform to their demands by blocking the roads in any part of the territory. And the planned civil-disobedience movement,'Occupy Central' is the last resort once our pursuit of a geniune universal suffrage---the chief executive in 2017 to be elected by qualified voters through 'one man,one vote' so as to be responsible to the citizens' needs and demands fails to materialise.What is wrong with that ? And the movement emphasizes on peaceful gatherings in Central (around the MTR Central stations' exits only since only 10,000 are expected to attend and there are committments to be signed and no violience is allowed.How can it cause the halt of all financial activities in Central ? I wonder. :You are deliberately trying to mislead ignorant or innocent readers here ! Shame on you and your misleading and malicious words ! Shame on you again !
Hey, Mr or Ms Wrath of God, you were reading too much into what what i had written. Now I have one question - "how about writing the proposal for "genuine" universal suffrage as though you are the government?" I am just reflecting on the big picture and I am not on anyone's side.
Wow, who saw this coming. Beijing's proxies are against the people of Hong Kong insisting the Basic Law be upheld and universal suffrage be allowed. The next surprising development will be the Tai Pans coming out against it because it might cut their annual income to only a few billion dollars. How dare anyone challenge the natural order of the Middle Kingdom with thoughts of regular people deciding how their lives are lived. Perish the thought.


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