Anti-Occupy advertisement runs on MTR and buses
Grouping of business chambers is behind the commercial, which they say is not political
Business chambers are stepping up their campaign against Occupy Central by sponsoring a commercial - which they say is not a political advertisement - to run on buses and trains.
The ads came as the five groups - the General Chamber of Commerce, Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Chinese Manufacturers' Association and Real Estate Developers Association - issued a statement in the Post yesterday against "unlawful civil disobedience".
They were referring to the Occupy movement, which plans to rally protesters to block Central if the government does not come up with a satisfactory plan to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election. In the one-minute video, shown on the MTR and on buses, Hongkongers tell of how they would be affected "if Central is occupied".
"[I will] need to spend more time on transportation as … Hong Kong Island would be jammed," says an insurance agent. A woman wonders: "Will I still receive my salary if I cannot go to work?"
Jimmy Ng Wing-ka, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, said the commercial was not a political advertisement because it did not mention political reform.
The Communications Authority does not allow political ads on radio and television, but the rules do not apply on transport systems.
The five groups will meet the press on Monday on the possible impact of Occupy Central.
Meanwhile, Occupy Central co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man said the movement would call a meeting in two days to brainstorm how it could explain its goals and principles to the public. The group "respects" those who oppose Occupy, the Chinese University sociologist said, but wanted to "explain the rationale behind Occupy".
IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said political ads should be allowed on public transport "as long as [operators] treat all parties equally".
The MTR and bus ad firm KMB RoadShow both said that all advertisers had to follow the same set of guidelines. KMB said that ads must not incite prejudice or contain indecent material.
Also yesterday, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy said its anti-Occupy drive had collected more than half a million signatures by last night. It expects to hit 800,000 - matching the turnout for Occupy's unofficial referendum last month - soon.
The announcement came just before hundreds of police officers with full anti-riot equipment took part in a drill in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate last night.
They were preparing for possible chaos caused by Occupy Central's proposed occupation of the business district in order to push for universal suffrage.
Participants impersonating demonstrators threw stones and real petrol bombs, before officers gradually contained them. Police were seen carrying tear-gas grenade launchers.
Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao and Eddie Lee