Occupy Central

CY Leung rejects calls to meet student hunger strikers

Chief executive insists students must first agree to play by Beijing's rules

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2014, 1:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2014, 3:37pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave a lukewarm response to calls from pro-establishment lawmakers to speak to five teenage Scholarism members who began a hunger strike this week to press for real universal suffrage.

Leung spoke as signs of health deterioration set in among the first three students to start the hunger strike on Monday night - yesterday the trio were being pushed around in wheelchairs.

Twice in his response to the government allies' calls, Leung said he was "very willing" to have such negotiations - only to qualify those words with a caveat that the striking students needed to play by Beijing's rules.

"Public nomination - which I understand is Scholarism's proposal - does not present a prerequisite for dialogue," he said during a visit to Huizhou , Guangdong.

He said the five fasting teenagers should accept the authority of a nominating committee that the government said had exclusive power to vet candidates for the 2017 chief executive election under the Basic Law.

All but four of the city's 27 pan-democratic lawmakers also wrote to Leung urging him to meet the hunger strikers, on top of similar calls from their pro-establishment counterparts.

In the morning, Liberal Party legislators James Tien Pei-chun and Felix Chung Kwok-pan visited the hunger strikers at their tents in Admiralty and offered to set up a meeting with Leung.

Tien, whose Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference membership was revoked after he suggested Leung consider resigning in the wake of the Occupy Central protests, said he would raise the matter when the chief executive met his party next week. Tien and Chung visited the students with independent lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, the solicitor representing a bus company that secured a court injunction to clear the Admiralty site.

Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung, one of the three who had gone without food since 10pm on Monday, spoke noticeably less yesterday, and with a soft voice.

"A dialogue does not violate the Basic Law … I don't understand why Leung Chun-ying wants to shun us," he said.

Another hunger striker, Eddie Ng Man-hin, thanked the efforts of pro-establishment lawmaker Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who texted Leung, but they would not accept the chief executive's idea of a closed-door meeting.

Meanwhile, Wong's mother defended her son in an open letter. "You can disagree with them, but you should educate and communicate with them instead of ignoring them. Otherwise, this generation will become ... more alienated from the government."