War of words rages over fate of the rule of law in Hong Kong
Silent Majority takes self-inflicted blow as it slugs it out against Occupy Central
It was round 2 yesterday in the battle between Occupy Central and Silent Majority for Hong Kong, and this time the challenger appeared to suffer some self-inflicted damage.
A rift became apparent within Silent Majority, the group launched last week to counter Occupy Central's campaign for civil disobedience in pursuit of universal suffrage in 2017.
Ho Lok-sang, professor of public policy at Lingnan University and one of the six convenors of the new group, said he disagreed with former radio host and fellow convenor Robert Chow Yung's suggestion that their group represented "good" while Occupy Central represented "evil".
Silent Majority wants to win the backing of at least 100,000 people for a peaceful campaign to protect what it says are the city's interests.
In a second radio debate, this time on RTHK yesterday, Chinese University sociology professor Chan Kin-man, of Occupy Central, insisted his group's plan would not hurt the rule of law.
"It is only an extraordinary measure for extraordinary times, because I believe that if the next political reform fails, it will be very difficult to govern Hong Kong," he said.
Chan called the planned protest a "self-sacrifice" to alert society to a critical situation.
Ho countered: "I am worried every time I hear 'extraordinary measure for extraordinary times'.
"If we backslide gradually on the spirit of the rule of law, some people might think that as long as they stand for justice, they can do something illegal."
Ho said it was important to prevent people from abusing their freedoms in a way that would infringe on other's rights.
Chan again said that civil disobedience was a last resort.
It would not be a major disturbance to ordinary people's lives as it would take police only about a day to remove everyone blocking the streets.
Its effect on the rule of law was far less worrying than a society that had lost its ability to determine the meaning of universal suffrage, he said.
In a forum in Sha Tin yesterday afternoon, Chan said that to avoid the Occupy Central protest ending in clashes, the group would be holding workshops with psychologists and social workers to teach participants how not to be provoked by opposing protesters.