Occupy Central

Opposing groups cross swords in radio battle over Occupy Central

New group Silent Majority's convenor crosses swords with civil disobedience movement organiser

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 7:43am

A new group established just last week has fired its opening salvo against the Occupy Central campaign for democracy, splashing out on full-page print adverts urging the silent majority to speak up against the planned acts of civil disobedience.

The cash-rich Silent Majority for Hong Kong took out the ads in 11 major Chinese-language newspapers, putting its words into action for the first time since it vowed on Thursday to protect the city's interests.

We cannot solve everyone's problems, nor can we pacify their anger. We are not the root of the problem. Why must the fury and discontent of the minority inflict harm on the innocent

The generous undertaking was aided by its victory in its first battle - the group raised more than HK$1 million from its 40 founders, while Occupy Central raised HK$800,000 from protesters in the annual July 1 rally.

But the civil disobedience movement is unlikely to be stopped any time soon. Its core organiser, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, said about 1,000 people had signalled their intention to join a 10,000-strong protest to block Central roads by next July as a last resort to strive for genuine universal suffrage in 2017.

Yesterday, the organisers of the two campaigns again crossed swords on a radio programme.

Former radio host Robert Chow Yung, one of the Silent Majority's six convenors, said on RTHK that the group had "taken the offensive" by running the ads, which laid out the group's vision: to call on the public to join it in speaking up.

"We cannot solve everyone's problems, nor can we pacify their anger," the ad read. "[But] we are not the root of the problem. Why must the fury and discontent of the minority inflict harm on the innocent?

"People can jump queue … when no one speaks out against the behaviour. We are the voice to prevent that from happening - for the sake of our future and our next generations."

By last night, the group had more than 5,600 "likes" on its Facebook page. It also received the endorsement of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong on the page. The Silent Majority aims to get support from 100,000 Hongkongers for a peaceful campaign against the Occupy Central movement.

On the RTHK programme, Chow insisted Occupy Central was "evil" and ran the risk of sparking "riots" in the city. "You cannot say a campaign that rallies people to break the law and brings huge damage to Hongkongers is a proper means [of achieving the end] - no matter how noble the goal," he said.

Tai disagreed. "I tend not to take a dualistic view that interprets [the world] as either good or evil. What Chow is doing can be proper, but that does not mean what we are doing is evil. They can both be good ways of working towards the same goal."

Both Chow and Tai agreed the two opposing groups could hold discussions in a peaceful and rational manner.

"We have only opponents, not enemies," Tai said.

He said his campaign would stick to a principle of non-violence. The movement will hold its second deliberation day in autumn to forge consensus on the democratic principles for universal suffrage.