CY Leung to face Occupy Central chief at dinner on reform
Chief executive invites cross-section of people, including leader of group he condemns, who welcomes offer of more than mere chit-chat
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will come face to face with a core organiser of the Occupy Central democracy campaign for the first time at one of two dinners hosted by the government next month.
The dinners at Government House on September 12 and 17 will give people from across the political spectrum the chance to discuss universal suffrage.
Invitations were sent out this week to more than 40 academics, professionals, businesspeople and members of non-governmental organisations, following an earlier exchange of views at a similar occasion on August 1.
On the guest list this time is Professor Chan Kin-man, one of three people spearheading the civil disobedience movement, which intends to gather 10,000 protesters to block roads in Central next summer as a last resort to strive for democracy.
Chan, associate professor of sociology at Chinese University, has received an invitation to the September 12 event. He said he was inclined to attend "given it is not a shallow chit-chat but a serious conversation on reform".
Fellow core organisers of Occupy Central Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong, and the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, have not been invited.
"I hope it is the beginning of a dialogue, and the beginning of the government facing the reality of a pressing electoral reform," Chan said. "We will exhaust all peaceful means before carrying out acts of civil disobedience."
He would share the Occupy Central timetable and highlight the importance of civil empowerment in the reforms, he said. A government source said top officials "are open to exchanging views with different parties" on constitutional development and would hold many dinners ahead of an official consultation on electoral reform.
Leung has been highly critical of Occupy Central. He said it was impossible for it to be lawful or peaceful, or to be tolerated by the government and the courts.
On August 1, dinner participants from the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps suggested setting up a body akin to the Basic Law Consultative Committee of the mid-1980s to canvass views on electoral reform. Pan-democrats who did not turn up on that occasion have been invited again.
Also on the list for the upcoming gatherings are Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok, who helped draft reform proposals for the Alliance for True Democracy, and his colleague Chang Chak-yan, a convenor of the Silent Majority for Hong Kong, set up to counter Occupy Central.
The Democrats will today announce details of how they intend to promote the Occupy Central agenda.
Additional reporting by Jeffie Lam