The Hong Kong Monetary Authority yesterday conducted an emergency drill with 55 banks ahead of the Occupy Central movement's threat to blockade the streets of the business district.
As bankers were testing their back-up plans, more than 300 campaigners for democracy set off from the business district for the first of seven days of marches aimed at rallying Hongkongers to vote in Occupy Central's "civil referendum" on electoral reform to be held from Friday to Sunday.
The Monetary Authority did not name the Occupy Central campaign directly in its statement, which said a periodic drill had taken place to test the reliability of its communications with the banks' back-up offices in the event of an emergency.
"The HKMA requires banks to have in place appropriate [business continuity plans] and to carry out periodic reviews and tests to ensure that the operation of their core business can continue under adverse circumstances, so as to minimise the impact on bank customers and the general public," the statement said.
"The drill assumed that due to unexpected events, the headquarters or other important operating sites of banks in Central as well as the HKMA's office, became inaccessible," it added.
The authority's chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam, said the drill had gone smoothly and he was satisfied with the results.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming led marchers up through Yau Ma Tei to Mei Foo Sun Chuen in Lai Chi Kok to try to persuade registered voters to take part in choosing one of three shortlisted options on electoral reform.
The winning option will be championed by Occupy Central, which plans to take to the streets if it finds the government's reform plan unacceptable. The "referendum" options all include some element of public nomination, which Beijing has made clear it finds unacceptable.
The seven days of marches have been organised by pro-democracy parties and campaigners. Democratic Party and Occupy Central organisers said the aim was to have marched through all of the city's 18 districts by the end of the week.
"Everyone who has come out today has shown that we all have the spirit to fight," said Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of the three founders of the Occupy Central movement.
In Macau, the pro-democracy group Macau Conscience held a gathering to celebrate the scrapping of a bill that would have awarded generous payouts to outgoing chief executives and top officials. The group's spokesman, Jason Chao Teng-hei, said he hoped the people of Macau would understand the importance of having universal suffrage in the city.
Its mini-constitution makes no mention of introducing a one-person, one-vote system, unlike Hong Kong's Basic Law.