I’d have joined Occupy protests in my youth, Hong Kong chief executive candidate declares

Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing says Leung Chun-ying is reason for city’s ills and why he’s running to oust him

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 1:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:30pm

The ex-judge running for Hong Kong’s top job says he would have joined the city’s Occupy protests if he were “50 years younger”, claiming teenagers thought their peers would look down on them if they did not join.

Woo Kwok-hing also dismissed as “laughable” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s suggestion that a change in leadership might not solve the city’s problems.

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Commenting on the pro-democracy Occupy movement of 2014 that failed to gain concessions from

Beijing, Woo sought to explain why many teenagers took part.

“You’d lose face if your peers asked if you went and you said you didn’t,” he said on RTHK on Friday, a day after he launched his bid for Hong Kong’s top job.

Woo, 70, added he would have joined the movement if he were 50 years younger, saying he held radical views in his youth.

He said the movement appealed even to those without real ideals because there were “tents, free food, and chatting throughout the night”.

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Woo conceded he did not completely understand today’s young people and would like to hear from them directly what led to their disappointment.

Restarting the political reform process with an “honest” account of Hongkongers’ voices, he said, was the only policy goal he was so far committed to.

He vowed to relay to Beijing, if elected, Hongkongers’ wish for the central government to vindicate the Tiananmen Square student protests in 1989. Leung, a Beijing-loyalist since before the handover, refused to join a minute’s silence for victims four years ago during the chief executive election.

On Leung’s remarks on Thursday that a new administration would not necessarily be able to tackle issues like housing and calls for the city’s independence, Woo called it “laughable”.

“Without a change, the problems will forever be unresolved,” Woo said on Commercial Radio on Friday. “If we know that [Leung] has been wrong but we don’t change [the leadership], then it will continue to be the same.”

He said it was a principle of democracy to change the person in power if he proved dissatisfactory.

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“If it weren’t for Leung Chun-ying being in power I wouldn’t be running for chief executive right now.”

When asked if his candidacy posed a threat to the chief executive ambitions of Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, Woo admitted they might draw upon a similar support base. But he would not say if he would eventually quit the race in order to help Tsang get elected.

Woo also said he found the city’s daily immigration quota allowing 150 mainlanders to reunite with family members in Hong Kong “very strange” and pledged to review the arrangement if elected. The policy has been cited by localists as a source of the city’s “mainlandisation”.