Exco pair won't sign up to anti-Occupy petition
Convenor Lam Woon-kwong and member Anna Wu break ranks with colleagues; Lam insists he is firmly anti-Occupy, but Wu won't take sides
Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong and fellow member Anna Wu Hung-yuk will not sign a controversial petition against the Occupy Central movement, breaking ranks with members of the government's top advisory body.
The pair, known as moderate voices in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's cabinet, are the only non-official members of Exco not to put their names to the signature campaign. The other 12 - and most top officials - have signed, despite concerns the campaign is adding to political polarisation in the city.
"My view on Occupy Central has been made public several times and is well known," Lam said. "I don't see the need to sign up to a campaign to repeat [it]."
In an article for yesterday's Post, Lam condemned Occupy's plan to blockade streets unless the government comes up with a plan for a democratic chief executive election in 2017 that was free of "screening" of candidates critical of Beijing.
He wrote that consensus on reform could not be achieved by threats and posturing and said Occupy was "naive … to threaten the central government". He cited polls showing limited support for the Occupy plan.
Lam, a former senior civil servant, often criticised the government in his spell at the helm of the Equal Opportunities Commission. He has also broken ranks in his new role. In November, he courted controversy by publicly calling on Leung to review the decision-making process that saw Hong Kong Television Network denied a free-to-air licence despite strong public support.
Wu, a solicitor and management consultant who also led the equalities watchdog, said she would not sign any petition that dealt with political positions.
"I feel that as long as I am in Exco, and particularly during this period, I should keep an open mind," said Wu.
The signature campaign was launched by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy on July 19 and ends with an August 17 rally.
The alliance says it wants reform in a "peaceful and non-violent manner".
Exco member Cheung Chi-kong, who signed on Thursday, said members had not discussed whether they should sign it.
"I don't think not signing amounts to supporting Occupy," he said. "Perhaps some members chose not to sign because of subliminal goals such as the hope of facilitating dialogue on reform."
Another member, Laura Cha Shih May-lung, signed on the first day of the campaign. "I feel strongly against the rationale as well as the means of the Occupy movement," she said.
Leung has yet to sign, despite saying on July 26 that he would. The only official to explicitly rule out signing is justice chief Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, who said he needed to remain impartial.