Military spectacle at PLA open day sees opinions divided on Occupy protests

Visitors attending the People's Liberation Army open day at the Shek Kong Barracks were keen to air their views on the controversy over electoral reform in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 3:36pm

Anti-Occupy Central sentiments were running high for some local residents who braved sweltering heat and sporadic showers on Sunday to visit People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers during the annual open day at the Shek Kong Barracks in Yuen Long.

The Barracks was full of visitors, some of whom had travelled from the mainland or abroad, and a long line stretching several blocks had formed outside the base minutes before it was opened to the public at 10am.

Children were seen handling laser rifles and having their photos taken in tanks and military helicopters as an ensemble of PLA soldiers marched through a sprawling yard to the high-pitched sound of trumpets played by a military band.

But, behind the thrills and spills of the military spectacle, some local residents spoke about their concerns and discontent with the Occupy Central movement and the spectre of it turning into violent revolt.

“They [the Occupy Central organisers] are too impulsive and I have the feeling of being forced to [side with them]. They have been coercing the government to agree to their demands, and dismiss alternative views as incorrect,” said auditor Tang Wah-hung.

“They [the Occupy Central organisers] have kept saying ‘no screening of candidates’ but in fact they have screened out other alternative options and asked the public to choose among their preferred ones.”

Chan Kwai-wa, 48, a technician, who joined the pro-democracy marches in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, said many protests nowadays are politically motivated and are often infiltrated by troublemakers.

“The concept of the Occupy Central movement was good at the outset but it is bound to end in a revolt. Just look at those young people protesting [about] the northeast New Territories funding scheme; the way they made their voices heard was not conducive to the cause but intended to disrupt society. It would be unthinkable if they went ahead and occupied Central.”

But university student Cheung Kin-sum, 22, disagreed.

“It is necessary for all Hong Kong residents to make a united front by participating in Occupy Central. The movement is not about stirring up violence but [is] a show of solidarity among the public to guard against unilateral actions by the government – such as the passage of funding for the northeast New Territories development plan.”