Silent Majority group urges petition, not occupation of Central
Silent Majority calls on Occupy Central to drop its plans to block Central and instead seek 100,000 signatures for universal suffrage
A new group launched on Thursday to counter the Occupy Central protest urged leaders of the civil disobedience movement to collect 100,000 signatures to fight for universal suffrage instead of blocking the streets of Central.
Organisers of Silent Majority for Hong Kong threw down the challenge to the pro-democracy group yesterday in an exchange on a DBC radio programme.
One of the six convenors of Silent Majority, Ho Lok-sang, professor of public policy at Lingnan University, questioned whether the Occupy Central plan had public consent and expressed concern that the movement could encourage people to break the law.
But Occupy Central organisers hit back, saying civil disobedience was a last resort and was different from illegal acts.
Ho said he was in favour of universal suffrage and that people with different party affiliations should have an equal right to contest the chief executive race as long as they do not oppose Beijing.
"The movement advocates should start up a citizen petition instead of occupying Central," Ho said. "A petition would pressure lawmakers as well."
Occupy Central initiator Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a University of Hong Kong law professor, said: "Rule of law does not simply mean obeying the law but also regulating the people in power.
"We want to fight for a fair ballot system by a non-violent civil disobedience movement … This is very different from general illegal acts and I don't think the movement will encourage citizens to break the law."
Another Occupy Central organiser, Chinese University sociology professor Chan Kin-man, said that pan-democrats had organised petitions for democracy as suggested by Ho before, but these efforts had been ineffectual.
Chan also stressed that civil disobedience was their last resort, and they had been preparing an electronic voting exercise to collect public opinion on their movement.
Chan said that in order to avoid the Occupy Central protest ending in clashes, they will arrange workshops with psychologists and social workers to train participants to resist being provoked by opposing protesters.
Occupy Central organisers will promote their manifesto by attending town hall meetings in the coming months.
Chan will attend a forum organised by the NeoDemocrats at Chun Shek Community Hall in Sha Tin today.