Occupy Central

Occupy Central Movement gaining support among young

Polling among pro-democracy protesters shows growing support for the Occupy Central Movement, though many fear reprisals for civil disobedience

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 5:36am

More than 70 per cent of some 330 pro-democracy protesters interviewed by the South China Morning Post said they backed the Occupy Central movement, but just 31 per cent were prepared to take part in the demonstration.

Meanwhile half of those polled while attending celebratory events yesterday, including a pop concert at Kai Tak, said they would not join a rally to confront the "occupy" movement.

The Post polled a total of 630 people on the march, at celebrations including the Kai Tak concert and in shops that offered discounts yesterday.

Belinda Wat Sin-yee, a teacher and mother of two girls who joined the march, summed up the feelings of many who support democracy but are not sure about joining the plan to block traffic in Central next year.

"I have kids [so] I'm worried about being arrested if I … occupy the streets," Wat said.

Eighty-two per cent of marchers polled wanted Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to quit.

"Fight for early introduction of universal suffrage" was the reason most gave for joining the march, being cited by 189 people, followed by "express discontent with the Hong Kong government", cited by 171 people.

The Occupy Central campaign plans a series of events to promote discussion of the path to universal suffrage, which will culminate in a 10,000-strong civil disobedience campaign on July 1 next year if the government does not come up with acceptable political reform plans.

Of the marchers surveyed by the Post, 72 per cent supported the movement, 6 per cent did not, while 22 per cent said it was "hard to say". When asked if they would join in, 31 per cent said they would, 22 per cent said no and the rest were not sure.

Older protesters took Occupy Central more seriously. Just 27 per cent of those under 40 said they would take part, while 39 per cent of those aged over 40 said they would do so.

Lai Yuk-yeung, 13, gave another reason for hesitation. "I'm afraid I'll get hurt if there are clashes with the police. I also need to know more about the organisers' actual plan. There is not enough publicity about what they've been doing."

Others were more determined. Kam Siu-wah, in his 50s, says he's ready to take part next year. "I've waited for 27, 28 years for democracy in Hong Kong; it remains a faraway dream. I must show my stance to the central government [through Occupy Central] next year," said Kam, who works in a plastics factory.

The Post interviewed 101 people at the Dome Festival at Kai Tak, a concert featuring Korean pop stars with cheap tickets thanks to sponsorship from property companies. It was seen by some as an attempt to lure young people from the march.

A quarter of those interviewed, mostly women and girls under 20, said they supported Occupy Central.

Just four per cent said they would join a counterprotest organised by the Voice of Loving Hong Kong.

Two hundred people enjoying shopping discounts arranged to lure people away from the march and into stores were polled.

Some 45 per cent of these said they would not join the anti-Occupy protest.

The majority of those who were ready to join the counterprotest were 60 years or more old and only had a secondary school education.

Li Pang-kwong, director of the public governance programme at Lingnan University, said it was common to see people behave in ways that didn't match their ideology, and the public's attitude towards Occupy Central was no exception. "Civil disobedience is a new concept to the public and it involves illegal acts. Participants could be held liable for what they do," Li said.

He said it would be wrong to draw general views from the Post poll because it was random.