Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang has urged activists to think twice before they wave the colonial flag, saying this and the "anti-locust" campaign against mainland visitors would solve nothing.
The call by Chan, a former lawmaker with close ties to the pan-democratic camp, came as the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office joined local government officials in condemning Sunday's rally in which 100 people marched in Tsim Sha Tsui to call for curbs on mainland visitors, dubbed "locusts".
"Hurling insults at others will never solve problems," Chan said yesterday. "That would only intensify the cross-border tension."
But, she added, resentment towards mainland tourists was "not without reason", and she urged the administration to act to ease overcrowding.
Chan, convenor of the think tank Hong Kong 2020, also said waving the colonial flag may be a bad move. She said activists who waved the flag were not calling for independence but trying to express their discontent.
"But they should mull over whether to make this move again," she said. They should think of actions "which would not pointlessly get on Beijing's nerves and give pro-establishment forces an excuse to tighten up" on Hong Kong's freedoms.
Chan said she believed the central government still wanted to listen to Hongkongers' views but the problem was how those opinions were expressed.
She added that the freedom of the press and of speech in Hong Kong faced an unprecedented threat and she was disappointed that the government had made no attempt to protect them.
The former government No2 also urged the administration to demand a report from Commercial Radio on the sacking of host Li Wei-ling, who blamed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for her downfall and hinted that the renewal of the station's licence in 2016 was a factor.
"Leung immediately asked for a report from Education Bureau on the saga of Alpais Lam Wai-sze," she said, referring to a teacher caught on video swearing at police at a protest. "So why shouldn't he demand an explanation from Commercial Radio over an incident that has concerned many people?"