• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:27am
Occupy Central
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PROTEST

Legco storming may be forerunner to Occupy Central, government source says

Government fears Friday's protest was forerunner of Occupy Central blockade

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 June, 2014, 5:28am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 June, 2014, 9:01am
 

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The government fears the attempt to storm the Legislative Council building on Friday night was a trial run by activists for the Occupy Central campaign of civil disobedience, a source close to the administration revealed.

Protesters used bamboo poles to try to force open doors to the Legco building when a crowd that had gathered to oppose government plans to build two new towns grew angry.

Inside, Legco's Finance Committee had been due to vote on a HK$340 million funding request for engineering works linked to the development plan in the northeastern New Territories, which will cost many villagers their homes.

The source said the mayhem offered an insight into the looming Occupy Central movement, which threatens to blockade the city's business district if the government does not come up with a satisfactory plan for electing the chief executive in 2017. That is the year when, under the Basic Law, the city may vote in a chief executive by universal suffrage for the first time.

"It is expected that Occupy Central … will be hijacked by the same group of people who will push the movement away from its original goal. These people will take even bigger steps to storm Legco when it scrutinises the reforms for 2017," the source said.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accused the protesters of "further aggravation in the wake of a spate of illegal events".

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor insisted the government would not shelve the HK$120 billion plan for the two new towns.

"People with a clear mind will notice that those who carried out the violent acts are not the villagers affected," she said.

But Labour Party lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said: "The protesters know clearly what they are opposing. The unjust development project matters not only to the affected villagers but all Hongkongers.

"I hope Lam will stop insulting the protesters and start listening to the people."

The people storming the Legco building were ordinary Hongkongers rather than political groups, said Napo Wong Weng-chi, an activist who claims he was beaten after being arrested as officers cleared the remaining protesters from the site early yesterday.

"I don't see why anyone would break into buildings when they join Occupy Central, which stresses peacefulness," he said.

Dr Chan Kin-man, one of Occupy Central's founders, believed there was little threat of the campaign resulting in a similar clash with police. Officers used pepper spray to force the crowd back from the doors.

"Even if a small group of people do get radical, we believe we will be able to handle most of them," he said.

A total of 21 people, aged 19 to 72, were arrested in the protest.

After viewing damage to the building, Legco President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing condemned the "very serious violent acts".

Activists say police attacked them after breaking up Legco protest

Activists claim they were punched and spat on by police after being arrested in the early hours of yesterday as police broke up their protest against development plans for the northeastern New Territories.

Five activists, including Jaco Chow Nok-hang, Leung Wing-lai and the League of Social Democrats' Napo Wong Weng-chi, said they were attacked in a police van en route from the Legislative Council building in Admiralty to Aberdeen Police Station.

"The police drew the curtain, turned the light off and started beating us about our heads," Chow said yesterday after being released on bail, bruises clearly visible on his forehead and ears. "They put handcuffs on three of us. They slapped and punched us, pulled our hair and even spat on our faces."

The violence stopped when they reached the station, where the activists were taken to a washroom to clean the blood off their faces before reporting to the duty officers, Chow said.

Wong said there about 10 police officers in the van with them. "Some of the police even kicked us," he added.

The five protesters were among 21 people arrested, one of whom was 72 years old.

Labour Party Legislator Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung also condemned the police for "using force" against his assistant, who he said had been handcuffed by officers even after he had introduced himself.

The assistant was also assaulted by several officers inside a police vehicle, Cheung said.

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung refused to comment on the accusations, but he said all complaints received were investigated impartially.

The Civil Human Rights Front described the alleged violence as "barbaric, illegal and unprofessional". It also urged the government watchdog to send representatives to any future rallies.

Meanwhile, the RTHK Programme Staff Union condemned the police for initially hauling away its TV reporter, Luther Ng Lap-tak, as officers moved in to clear the 100 or so people who were still protesting at the Legco site after midnight.

RTHK and the Hong Kong Journalists Association urged police to apologise over the incident.

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45

This article is now closed to comments

ton1998
There is many evidence , pictures , television , to recognize those people who make those trouble. Arrest them and bring to court.
mymak
It seems clear to a neutral observer that one group is intent on hijacking everyone's grievances and protests for their own ends. If Occupy Central want to sit in the street for a couple of days, then let them. If demonstrators from the NT want to demonstrate outside LEGCO then let them. But those from the 3rd group need to be stopped. They are only intent on causing social disorder and bringing about a violent confrontation with the authorities. It should sadden and worry the majority of Hong Kongers that these people are somehow winning elections. This does not auger well for the future.
virokick
Occupy Central like any kind of protest has a potential to turn disorderly or violent , it's a protest after all, not a high school prom.
That's why we have the police force. To arrest those violent thugs , but leave behind those peaceful protestors who just sit in.
honger
The Friday night fracas beamed live by TVB showed how the grave faced young police corps put up a brave fight as they battled to hold the fort while the crazed mobsters tried to prise open the glass doors with sharp bamboo poles and broke a wall.
Why didn't the police send back up from the outside to halt the increasing violence before it turned so violent? They could have deployed water canons to break up the crowd. All inside the building were effectively locked in by the mob. Even the car park exit was blocked. This put everyone who was in the Legco Building in great danger as all exits were blocked/held/barricaded by the mob until the police dispersed them many hours later. What if someone had started a fire? Remember how mobsters did that at the Immigration Building killing an officer more than a decade ago?
The police has to be more firm since the same scenes will be enacted in Central come July. The police has the responsibiliy to protect the public and all stakeholders from these dangerous mobsters. Law and order has to be enforced, or these people - emboldened by politicians with vested interests and cheered on by the West - will be even more violent.There is no democracy involved here.
In New York or London, these young mobsters would be carted off long before they picked up the bamboo poles.
ngsw
For those who are accusing HK government or Beijing planting agitators to stir up the violence, do you see the scene in TV, after the Legco announced the suspension of the meeting, two lawmakers of People Power (Chan Wai Yip and Chan Chi Chuen 陳偉業, 陳志全) announcing their victory hilariously to the supporters around them and vowed to them that they will continue the fight. They are showing their political might and how they can rally mobs to storm the government. I recognize some mobs of this group. They are regular protesters and of course they wouldn't miss the fun. If someone insists government stirring up the violence, then it should be the government hiring People Power to do it. They should be franchised by the villagers to run the protest (no other political parties can step it), but it looks like the villagers don't expect something so violent to occur. What would happen to HK if this group and their likes take the power to run HK?
Kubrick
It is evident that this was a premeditated attack on our seat of government. The myth of peaceful protest in Hong Kong should now be laid to rest, as these radical elements have crossed the rubicon. Friday's protest was hijacked by the violent radicals and no doubt OC will go the same way, because the naive academics who proposed it, can't control this mob.
req
There are a bunch of punks that ought to be caged. I seem to see them too often. They should use stronger stuff to cleanse those little cretins.
anthonygmail
Dr Chan Kin-Man = naive academic.
chuchu59
While I loathe to say it this the government may be right in stating this storming is the forerunner to OC. These things can and will go wrong like what is stated in 'Murphy's Law'. The OC founders may be hoping the act of civil disobedience is peaceful but then you never know and in a worst case scenario this could turn into a riot and people may die. Other than saying OC will be conducted peacefully I would like to know what measures the founders have in mind to prevent this act from turning ugly. Simply citing they will not is hardly reassuring.
ntmount
If the government spent more time listening to the people and less time condemning them, protests would be smaller and peaceful. What's the next step-they start condemning the annual July 1 rally and link it to the Occupy Central movement?They are obviously deeply insecure about the lack of electoral reform compromise. A symptom of a weak, poorly-mandated government and structure.
They seem to be goading otherwise neutral parties to hit the streets. Not smart.

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