The Beijing-loyalist camp has taken up a notch their opposition to their pro-democracy rivals' Occupy Central campaign: by mobilising self-styled celebrities in support of their cause.
Half a dozen names from the entertainment industry showed up at a forum organised by the Love China-Hong Kong Alliance of Youth Cultural Societies yesterday to express their desires for harmony amid what they said was the radical pursuit of democracy.
Occupy Central is a plan to rally protesters to blockade Central district next summer if the government has not come up with a satisfactory plan to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive elections and 2020 Legislative Council elections.
"Have you ever heard of anyone hijacking a [Boeing] 787 plane for negotiation?" said entertainer Jacky Li Kin, comparing Occupy Central to such a situation.
Ng Kai-lung, who took part in television talent show Minutes to Fame on TVB, called for social harmony.
"I hope that we, the residents, will care more about the government, and the government care more about us," Ng said.
None of the entertainers who attended have contracts with TVB or ATV, the city's two main showbiz broadcasters, but organisers nevertheless referred to them collectively as "well-known celebrities".
Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong attended the two-hour forum. As he has previously done, Lam pointed out policymaking defects in the current political system.
"The executive and legislative bodies have failed to have constructive and forward-looking discussion on policies regarding long-term developments," Lam said.
Lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun asked so-called radicals to rethink their strategies given what she said was the close attention Beijing was paying to how "attractive" democracy could be in Hong Kong.
Lam left the forum halfway through amid a sudden heavy downpour, and security guards and police removed barricades surrounding the venue to let him out - only to close them again when a dozen reporters tried to follow him.
Journalists argued with security guards and police over the restriction. One security guard responded: "We let him go because he requested so, but you didn't."
A government spokesman said that despite the police presence at the event, it had been the administrative wing of the chief secretary's office that had handled the security arrangements around the central government offices in Tamar in Admiralty - where the forum was held.
The spokesman said the barricades were always put up on weekends and removed "on request".