Occupy Central

Rita Fan: Beijing won't be forced into universal suffrage

Loyalist Rita Fan warns against Occupy protest after Benny Tai argues democracy can work

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 July, 2013, 8:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 4:23pm

The central leadership would not allow itself to be forced into introducing universal suffrage that met international standards, a Hong Kong member of the nation's top legislature has warned.

And the Occupy Central civil disobedience action would only end up being an act of "self-mutilation" on the city, said Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Fan's words came on the heels of a speech by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of Occupy Central's core organisers, at the same secondary school in Ma Tau Wai.

Tai was on his first visit to schools to talk about the movement for democracy.

"Today, Beijing is full of confidence and is determined to walk its own way [politically]," she told about 400 pupils yesterday.

"I cannot see Beijing accepting the western style of democracy, or universal core values, and deeming it suitable to be applied to any place in China."

She also said a recent proposal for the 2017 chief executive election - which suggests an aspiring candidate who clinches the support of 100,000 voters can contest under universal suffrage - could hardly be in line with the Basic Law and the NPC stance.

Fan issued the warning in the afternoon at Heep Yunn School in Ma Tau Wai, hours after Tai, a University of Hong Kong law professor, spoke at the school.

Tai initiated the idea to gather 10,000 protesters to jam roads in Central by July next year as a last resort in the drive for democracy. Ahead of his speech, pro-establishment group Voice of Loving Hong Kong distributed leaflets outside the school against Tai promoting the civil disobedience campaign to pupils.

Fan said the stakes were not high enough to force a change of stance in the central leadership and described the Occupy campaign as "self-mutilation". "Occupy Central - as a threat - is not the appropriate way," she said.

Tai said he believed state leaders were sincere about allowing universal suffrage in the city.

"There is room for a universal suffrage proposal to meet both the requirements of the Basic Law and international standards," he told about 500 pupils.

The movement would not accept pupils aged below 18 to join acts of civil disobedience, he said, but they could take part in "deliberation days" to discuss Occupy Central or as volunteers. After the speeches, some pupils expressed support for the campaign but none pledged to join.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim, when asked about Tai's appearance at Heep Yunn, said his bureau "especially reminded schools again" not to take any initiative in arranging potentially illegal activities.

The school stated its political neutrality, saying both speeches were organised as part of liberal studies.