Occupy Central ‘unwise’, says Peter Woo of Wharf, a likely loser from protest
The chairman of developer Wharf (Holdings), Peter Woo Kwong-ching, says he does not expect the central government to make any concessions in the election of Hong Kong's chief executive or on electoral reform. And he urged protesters not to occupy Central, arguing it is "not worth it".
"[Protesters] hope to use an illegal movement - Occupy Central - to try to seize control of Hong Kong's administration. It is an unwise move," he said yesterday after the company's annual general meeting.
Woo - who came third in the vote for the first chief executive in 1996 - said the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law were clear about the limits of Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy" and its ultimate sovereignty. "When they talk about civic nomination, it is [the protesters'] one-sided wish," he said.
The central government had made its stance very clear in remarks by various officials, including National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang, and Woo said it was in no mood to make concessions.
"The young generation could sacrifice their future over the next 30 years to join an illegal movement to fight for something that they will not achieve. Is it worth it? I think it is not," he said.
Woo, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is the third leading Hong Kong developer to publicly oppose the Occupy Central movement. Li Ka-shing said in March that the movement would be harmful to the city. Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land has also voiced his disapproval.
A report by Swiss bank UBS said Wharf would be one of the biggest losers from the mass civil disobedience Occupy Central has threatened if its supporters disapprove of government proposals for electoral reform.
Meanwhile, the government's monetary and securities regulators have prepared contingency plans for Occupy Central.
Securities and Futures Commission chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing has told the stock exchange, local brokers and fund houses to prepare for its impact. The SFC's offices are in Central, as are those of most of the brokers and fund houses it regulates.
"All SFC licensees need to check on their back-up facilities to make sure their operations will not be affected by any emergencies such as Occupy Central," he said. "The SFC will … work closely with the stock exchange and licensees to make sure they can continue to operate … as usual."
A Hong Kong Monetary Authority spokesman said it would hold business continuity drills with banks in the next two weeks. Banks have been told to put in place adequate plans to protect critical areas of their business against disruption.