Carrie Lam tells Occupy democracy ‘will never be achieved’ through civil disobedience
Group leaders say government's No 2 simply urged them to give up, rather than offering hope of compromise on democratic reform
The government and Occupy Central remain poles apart over political reform after their first meeting yesterday at which Hong Kong's No 2 official told the movement's organisers their goal would not be achieved through civil disobedience.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged the Occupy organisers to give up their plan to block roads in Central if the government fails to come up with a satisfactory plan for a democratic election for chief executive in 2017.
But Occupy leaders stuck to their guns, urging the government to respect the views expressed in last month's unofficial referendum, in which almost 700,000 of the near-800,000 voters urged lawmakers to veto reforms that did not meet international standards.
Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who met Lam with co-organisers Dr Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, described the meeting as "disappointing" as Lam did nothing but urge them to give up.
"We cannot say the meeting was productive," Tai said. "We have expressed our views and even offered [to help] find a way to solve the constitutional crisis with the understanding of the political reality after the civil referendum. But we cannot see that the chief secretary has any concrete plan or idea for finding a way to solve the crisis."
Speaking after the one-hour meeting, Lam said she had "seriously told the organisers that I don't agree with their means".
"They want the central and Hong Kong governments to back down and even threaten us … but I believe their goals will never be achieved. I hope they will think twice," Lam said.
Tai said Lam questioned the "quality" of public opinion reflected in the referendum. He said Occupy "must take place" if the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which will set Beijing's guidelines for the 2017 poll next month, ruled out a real choice of candidates.
The meeting came as the Alliance for Peace and Democracy announced it had collected more than 900,000 signatures from people opposing Occupy's plan, including those of top officials.
Tai said it was "poor political judgment" for officials to sign a petition full of misleading statements. He added that the number of signatures gathered would not mean the Occupy poll could be dismissed.
"Public opinion is not only about quantity but quality … and also the political consequence that it might bring," he said, adding that Occupy's poll, carried out by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, had been "more than asking people to sign [a petition] on the streets".
HKU yesterday released a survey on models for the 2017 election, commissioned by the Alliance for True Democracy.
More than half of the 1,009 respondents were in favour of the alliance's plan, under which the public, political parties and a nominating committee would pick candidates. Support was up more than five percentage points on last month, and there were more than three times as many respondents for the idea than against.
Meanwhile, the Basic Law Committee, which advises the NPC Standing Committee on the implementation of the mini-constitution, met yesterday morning to discuss reform, member Professor Wong Yuk-Shan said.