Rivals to Occupy Central: meet your match
Voice of Loving Hong Kong plan: rally 10,000 people in a peaceful, non-violent action to take on pro-democracy civil disobedience movement
Joshua But and Johnny Tam
A rapidly rising pro-government group has vowed to rally 10,000 people in July 2014 to counter plans by the Occupy Central group to bring 10,000 pro-democracy protesters to central Hong Kong to block traffic.
The group, called the Voice of Loving Hong Kong, was founded last September. It is one of the first groups to declare its plans for concrete action against Occupy Central’s planned civil disobedient protest in July 2014.
Occupy Central, which views their protest as a last resort, said it would only go ahead with its plans if the Hong Kong government failed to offer a satisfactory plan to implement universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017.
Voice of Loving Hong Kong convenor Patrick Ko Tat-pun on Wednesday would not disclose what the type of actions his group was planning to take, but he said they would not breach any laws.
“It is not difficult at all for us to gather 10,000 people to confront the occupiers,” Ko said. “But our bottom line is that any of our actions will be law-abiding.”
“It is inevitable that Hong Kong is becoming more polarised,” Ko said. “But we must act as much as we can to prevent such unlawful activities [Occupy Central’s traffic blocking] from happening,” Ko added.
Ko’s group did on Wednesday announced that a carnival – with a theme of “Protect Hong Kong” – will be held this Monday, July 1, in the afternoon next to the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui – the same time as the annual July 1 protest will be taking place across the harbour.
At the carnival, the group will unveil its initial anti-Occupy-Central working plan, part of which will include the setting up of a team to monitor the action plan and the distribution of one million free "anti-Occupy-Central" badges to the public.
The group will also seek to meet education officials next month for talks on preventing the civil disobedience message from reaching pupils.
The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of the core organisers of the Occupy Central movement, said the pro-government group had missed the point.
"It is meaningless [to target at the Occupy Central plan] because the prime concern of Hongkongers is whether we achieve universal suffrage in 2017," said Chu, who has always insisted on the peaceful and non-violent nature of his group’s planned protest.
"If they are capable of rallying 10,000 supporters, they would be better off urging the government to begin political reform."
Chu said participants in the Occupy Central action would be well trained to handle provocation. "There is no question - our protest will be conducted in a peaceful, non-violent manner."
Meanwhile, Hang Lung Properties chairman Ronnie Chan Chichung said Singapore, an arch-rival of Hong Kong for decades, would be "the happiest" to see Central occupied.
"Reducing your own competitiveness as an international finance centre is the same as serving your rivals," said Chan, an ally of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. "If foreign companies move their offices to other cities, many Hongkongers will lose their jobs. Is it the best for Hong Kong? Think about it yourselves."