Occupy Central

Adviser who warned of 'bloody conflicts' says pro-democracy camp no match for Beijing

Lau Siu-kai, who has advised the local and central governments, says Beijing will not allow public nomination and continued unrest will make the city ungovernable

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 6:31pm

Despite hundreds of thousands voicing support for democracy in Occupy Central’s unofficial referendum and the July 1 march, the size of the pro-democracy camp is still not enough to take on Beijing, says the former head of the government’s top think tank.

And Lau Siu-kai warned that continued political unrest would make the city ungovernable, but stopped short of suggesting the People’s Liberation Army might be deployed on Hong Kong streets.

Lau is the former head of the Central Policy Unit, and is now the vice-president of a pro-Beijing think tank, the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. He was previously an adviser to Beijing on Hong Kong affairs.

The think tank is headed by Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the central government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Last week Lau warned of “bloody conflicts” if confrontation between Beijing and Hong Kong worsened.

The city’s political impasse would continue as both Beijing and pan-democrats are hardening their stances on how the 2017 chief executive election should be held, Lau said on Monday.

“While it would be tough to put forward important policies, even trivial policies would face large obstacles,” he told RTHK.

Almost 800,000 people called for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the top job in Occupy’s public poll.

A big majority also urged lawmakers to reject any official election plan that would not guarantee voters a genuine choice between candidates.

Organisers of the July pro-democracy march say 510,000 took part last week. A Post study estimated the turnout at 140,000.

After the march hundreds of people took part in a pro-democracy sit-in on Chater Road in Central. Police say they arrested 511 protesters.

Occupy plans to stage a mass sit-in in Central if the government’s official election plan does not guarantee genuine choice between candidates.

Lau said the central government would not allow the public to nominate candidates as Beijing would not want to end up with a chief executive it did not trust.

But Lau said any further protests could be managed by police.

“Most of the people still support using a peaceful and rational way [to voice their opinions] ... I believe the police could handle the situation and we do not have to worry that the People’s Liberation Army would be deployed,” Lau said.

In January, Lau was criticised for saying that Beijing would see nothing wrong in trying to exert a “slight influence” of Legislative Council elections, in contravention of the “one country, two systems” principle.

Last year Lau said Beijing’s new rules for the chief executive’s annual duty visit would “encourage” the local government to be more dedicated. Pan-democrats condemned his remarks as justifying Beijing’s “meddling” in the city’s internal affairs, and he was accused of doing the central government’s bidding.