Occupy Central

OCCUPY CENTRAL - DAY THREE: Full report of the day's events

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2014, 8:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 1:18pm

Good afternoon and welcome to day three of our live Occupy Central coverage, Large crowds took to the streets last night, converging on sites in Hong Kong and Kowloon, causing more disruption this morning.

CY Leung today acknowledged that the protests would likely last "a long time" but said Beijing would not back down on democracy.

Stay tuned for live updates.




7.26pm. Thunderclaps are heard and and rains come down on Hong Kong. Crowds in Central rush to put on raincoats and open umbrellas, but many are still sitting out on the roadway.  

On Connaught Road Central, people have rushed under a footbridge to take cover from the pouring rain. An organiser in a yellow raincoat encourages those remaining defiant on the road to seek cover.

In Kowloon, protesters with umbrellas have stayed on Nathan Road, while those without cover ran to take shelter under the awnings of nearby buildings. The organiser said they had run out of raincoats to give away.

7.15pm. Student leaders Lester Shum and Agnes Chow addressed crowds in Central, thanking all those who joined, saying the turnout was a surprise.

“We are not only hoping for CY [Leung] to step down but we are also hoping for democratic development in Hong Kong – that we should have civil nomination and universal suffrage,” they said.

Chow, whose long, pink hair was soaked in sweat, urged the public to come out and join the protests to tomorrow, a public holiday and the anniversary of the People's Republic's founding. Chow said she did not know how long the civil disobedience action would last.

In a warning to Hong Kong chief executive Leung, she said: “Where there are hundreds of thousands or even over millions of people coming out, you should respect the opinion of Hong Kong people and step down. Give Hong Kong people a real democratic system with civil nomination."

6.45pm. After-work and after-school crowds stroll around Connaught Road Central. Students, workers families and secondary students in their crisp white uniforms take in the scene.

The mass is thickest outside the Hong Kong Club, where a thick metal barricade has been erected across the seven-lane roadway.

A group of secondary school students, aged 15 to 18, from Sha Tin handed out snacks to crowds in Central. They said teachers told them it would be illegal for them to join the protest, so they decided to donate HK$100 each on supplies instead.

"Our teachers won't allow us to come here, but we wanted to show our support so we are giving out materials," one of the students said, declining to give her name. "This is what we can do. After we've given all the materials out we will leave."

Crowds are also hunkering down in Mong Kok and Admiralty as the crowds swell after rush hour.

6.22pm. Hundreds of people gathered on a blocked section of Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, listening to a public lecture on by Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-Iok.

Chan, an associate professor at Baptist University, talks about civil disobedience and non-violent protest. Since the tear-gas attacks by police on Sunday, the demonstrations have mostly been peaceful.

Meanwhile, a bizarre scuffle broke out in front of Sogo when a man started pelting protesters with rotten eggs, yelling for the demonstrators to "go back to class and stop blocking the roads". Protesters responded simply by quickly cleaning up the mess.

6.10pm. Several buses stuck in protest zones have been converted into “democracy buses”, plastered with colourful signs and banners.

Earlier this afternoon, a senior police inspector, accompanied by bus company representatives, asked those leading the Mong Kok protest if the companies could “pull back the bus”.

But they were turned away when Gigi Wong, a protest participant, suggested that should be a democratic decision. “There is no leader here and I can’t make a decision for the crowd,” she said.

A CityBus trapped on Harcourt Road was allowed to be driven away. Another bus on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai, had also been withdrawn, the police inspector said.

5.45pm. Hong Kong police hold a press conference saying they never meant to “open fire” on protesters on Sunday, when officers unleashed 87 rounds of tear gas.

Pressed on whether police planned to shoot rubber bullets that day,  Police Chief Superintendent Steve Hui Chun-tak, from the police public relations bureau, refused to answer directly, only stressing that they “never intended to fire any shots”.

A warning sign held up by officers before they shot tear gas may have caused confusion.

“The flag has two sides; the side in black says ‘warning: tear smoke’ while the other side says ‘disperse or we fire’,” Hui said. “We never meant to show [the other side of the flag] to the crowd in the front and we had absolutely no intention to open fire."

Only pepper spray, batons and tear gas were used, he said.

The Hong Kong police force also said it had enough manpower to "deal with every situation", when asked if the Chinese military was likely to intervene. Many officers were said to have worked more than 12-hour shifts in the past three days.

5.29pm: Protesters continue making their voices heard - through street art, banners and signs. In Admiralty, near the government's headquarters, protesters unfurl a huge banner saying: "Do you hear the people sing?"

5.10pm: In response to CY Leung's accusation that road blockades have delayed ambulance and emergency services, Occupy Central and the Federation of Students said they would set up "humanitarian corridors" in occupation zones, to allow emergency vehicles to pass through.

Student federation leader Alex Chow warned that if Leung fails to respond to protesters, more people will come out to join the protest tomorrow and Thursday and throughout the National Day holidays.

Chow also urged the pro-establishment camp to speak up against Leung if they disagree with the government's handling of the protests.

4.25pm: A police Sergeant has approached protesters near Sogo in Causeway Bay, asking if they will allow traffic to pass through the blockade. He said the occupation had already interrupted traffic flow for a long time and had inconvenienced many people going about their daily lives.

He made a request for protesters to clear at least one lane of the street to allow transport to pass through, but his pleas fell on deaf ears, with protesters beginning a chant of "no compromise".

Questioned by the Post, the officer declined to comment on future measures and whether police would use force to clear the area.

3.55pm: From umbrellas to a sea of lights: what have been the defining moments of the protest so far? To see our 'Top 10 moments from Occupy Central' click here.

3.10pm: A selection of SCMP pictures from the streets, ahead of a third night of protests in Hong Kong:

2.25pm: China is watching you! Beijing may be keeping quiet about the Occupy Central protests, but the army appears to be keeping a keen eye on what's going on. This picture taken by an SCMP photographer today shows a man in the People's Liberation Army using binoculars to survey the protest site in Admiralty.

A row of tripods can be seen in the windows, suggesting the occupiers have been under the watchful eye of China for some time.

2.27pm: Spokesman for student group Scholarism, Oscar Lai Man-lok, said he will lead dozens of students to attend the National Day flag-raising ceremony tomorrow morning at Golden Bauhinia Square.

They will dress in white and wear yellow ribbons, he said, in silent support of the call for democracy in the city, and the right for citizens to nominate chief executive candidates.

If refused entry, as they were a year ago, he said they would stand in silence outside the venue.

2.10pm: Crowd numbers in Mong Kok are swelling once again, with an SCMP reporter at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road putting this afternoon's current figure at around 1,000 protesters. In Causeway Bay, too, numbers are increasing, with an estimate of 2,000 people now in the space outside Sogo.

Trouble flared in Causeway Bay earlier, when small business owners began shouting at students and protesters, yelling at them to "go back to school".

2.07pm: Lo Wing-man and Ka Sing-fung were married at City Hall today - with the Occupy Central protest as a backdrop.

1.55pm: In Admiralty, the crowd began to swell, fuelled by many working in Central who came out during their lunch breaks to voice support.

Clad in a stripped shirt, Lampson Lo Ka-hang, 33, said: "They are doing the right thing because someone needs to pressure the government,"

He said most of his colleagues were supportive of the movement.

Another man in his 30s, surnamed Yu, who works for a financial firm, said: "I just want to take this time to support these students."

1.18pm: Earlier today scores of protesters from the Alliance in Support of Our Police Force chanted slogans outside police headquarters in Wan Chai.

One member, Joe Sin Chat-ching, said Occupy Central was worse than the anti-World Trade Organization protest staged by Korean farmers in Hong Kong in 2005.

"The duration is longer, unlike what happened in 2005," he said, accusing the movement of bringing inconvenience to Hong Kong.

Asked if police had resorted to excessive force, he said: "Tear gas is pretty much like pepper spray. You'll be fine after wiping your face."

1.05pm: It looks like the number of protesters on the streets is creeping up again if scenes on Harcourt Road are anything to go by. As lunchtime approached the number of people near government headquarters in Admiralty was significantly higher than this morning.

Protesters were seen removing metal barriers outside the Legco car park, with apparent approval from police, who had been guarding the entrance for the last few days, but are now nowhere to be seen.

12.32pm: CY Leung this morning acknowledged that Occupy Central was going to "last for quite a long period of time".

"They have set up a lot of resource centres and even first aid points, so we know that Occupy Central ... is not a matter of days, but it will last for a relatively long time. Its [impact] on the people's daily lives, their personal safety in the event of emergencies, the city's economic development, as well as the cost on international image, will also grow bigger and bigger. I hope we can think about these issues," he said.

12.25pm: Relations between police and protesters seem to be improving in some quarters. In Admiralty, two days after a tense stand off between the sides, some went to chat with officers while others asked if they needed cooling gel pads as they stood in the sun.

12.10pm: So, Occupy Central - for or against? Here's what some Hongkongers told SCMP reporters this morning:

Antony Tai, in Causeway Bay, attending his first protest: "I am here to protest against the police's use of tear gas. That was very unreasonable. How could they do so?"

Lai Yat-sung, 33, just quit her job to be an artist. She has been going to the various protest sites in Mongkok, Causeway Bay and Central since Saturday. 

"The protesters are like self-organizing guerrillas. If someone so much as walks past with a garbage bag then everyone around him will start cleaning up their area. I'm a little ashamed to put it this way, but it's been a long time since I was proud to call myself a Hong Konger," she says. "Regardless of what happens in the end, we've already achieved something."

Tham Mun-hon, a 43-year-old who works in finance in Central, says the Occupy Central protests aren't as popular as the media makes them out to be. He says it's mostly students on the streets.

"I think society will start to be divided over time, because you're disrupting a lot of businesses - people need to work, people need to make a living. I'm not against asking for democracy but it's the way you do it. I think at this point, it seems to me that some of the pro democracy leaders have lost control of the whole movement."

Wong Tak-hon, a 19-year-old local community college student,"It has morphed from an organised group event to a spontaneous movement, but it was always a serious protest. Maybe you saw the pictures of foreigners putting on a barbecue last night. We're grateful for their support, but we're also afraid that protesters might become less alert, and that some onlookers will see the movement as more of a street carnival than a protest."

Andrew Cobden, a 52-year-old lawyer who lives in Pokfulam and walked from Sheung Wan to Pacific Place because of the roadblocks, says the inconvenience doesn't bother him.

"A little bit of inconvenience is not too bad, and I think the cause that they're demostrating against is quite important. Their hearts are in the right place. Like everyone, I'm not sure what they will end up achieving, but I think it's good that people are showing they care about democracy."

Richie Tsui Fung-ming, a 35-year-old who lives in Tsing Yi and works at a law firm in Central, says she fully supports the roadblocks. 

"If the government continues to ignore what they say, this situation is only going to last. The government is really under pressure to do something."

11.55am: More designs are emerging for the 'Umbrella Revolution'. The wording is translated as 'bounce back'. To see our full gallery of designs click here...

11.40am: According to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, this morning a total of 37 branches of 21 banks are closed. This is compared with 44 branches of 23 banks yesterday.

11.10am: Things are heating up! It's going to be an uncomfortable day for many demonstrators, as temperatures climb. Hong Kong Observatory currently says it's 31.3C.

11am: The SCMP has otained from a police contact a message from the Commissioner of Police emailed to officers in the early hours of this morning, urging police to "stay united, remain resolute, and overcome this challenging situation together".

Here's the email in full:

Message from the Commissioner of Police

During the recent unlawful assembly at the Central Government Complex and its vicinity, the enforcement actions taken by the Force have attracted some controversies. The senior management fully understand the difficulty of the task, and the complexity of this unprecedented operation.

In this very trying situation, you have remained steadfast, demonstrated extreme patience and performed your duties in the most professional manner throughout the operation. Your unreserved efforts in serving the community in this critical moment are much appreciated by the senior management.

I trust we will stay united, remain resolute, and overcome this challenging situation together. Thank you.

10.35am: Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying has spoken publicly for the first time since the violence on Sunday evening.

But in a 15-minute speech, Leung failed to offer insight as to how the administration would deal with the protests, refusing to say whether officials would meet with activists.

Instead, Leung reiterated that the continuation of illegal acts would not make central government alter its decision on Hong Kong's political reform.

"Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I'm now asking them to fulfill the promise they made to the society, and stop this campaign immediately," Leung said.

He said road blockades on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon had affected the emergency services.

10.10am: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying this morning gave a strong hint that he would not give in to the protesters' demands for him to resign in order to stop the Occupy protests.

"Any personnel change before the implementation of universal suffrage is achieved would only allow Hong Kong to continue to pick its leader under the Election Committee model," Leung said before chairing the Executive Council's weekly meeting.

Leung also called on Hong Kong people not to believe in rumours that the People's Liberation Army or mainland police could be mobilised to help crackdown on the protests.

Meanwhile a protester on Connaught Road is warning others to be vigilant as numbers have dropped, reminding people the smaller group is more vulnerable to being cleared by police.

In Admiralty a student from Chinese University has brought 30 buns from his own pocket and is handing them out to protesters. Yeung Kwok-chi said the shop owner charged him HK$70 instead of $HK90.

9.55am: Twitter has put together a graphic showing how the Hong Kong protests have sparked worldwide debate over the last few days. At the peak of the conversation Twitter says there were 12 tweets a second being sent on the Hong Kong protests, as the world watched the territory's civil disobedience movement clash with police.

Twitter has also created a graphic of the most widely shared pictures. To see the full interactive graphic and the most shared pictures click here...

9.35am: Here are the aircraft flying in formation over Victoria Harbour this morning. They have been identified as Government Service Aircraft, which routinely patrol the area.

9.13am: In Causeway Bay the streets have been cleaned by protesters keen not to leave the site dirty.

A lone protester sitting outside a barricade at the junction of Yee Wo Street and Sugar Street, who gave his name as TK So, 33, said he had remained there all night by himself during the protest so he could alert others if police arrived.

"I want to be here in case the police come, so I can tell everyone else," he said. "Plus I want to let newcomers know - they can sit here too."

So said he had been following the debate on constitutional reform and believed Beijing and the Hong Kong government were deceiving the public.

The Academy for Performing Arts Alumni Association calls for Wan Chai campus to re-open. Association said school premises should be open during class boycott to provide shelter for students but the academy's decision to keep campus locked from Sunday at 5pm till October 2, barring students, teachers and alumni from entering, was unreasonable.

9.01am: At the chief executive's office at Tamar, police officers are guarding the building while journalists are preparing for Leung Chun-ying's weekly briefing before the Executive Council.

Classes in all Wan Chai, Central and Western District schools and kindergartens are cancelled again today. The government has said in other districts schools should "exercise flexibility" for pupils who are late or absent due to traffic problems.

The transport department has said more than 20 minibus routes have been altered or suspended.

8.52am: This is the dramatic moment last night that a car was driven at a group of protesters in Mong Kok. those gathered were forced to scatter as the car sped through the crowd without slowing.

The driver abandoned the car and fled. Read the full story here...

8am: Planes and helicopters spotted flying low over Victoria Harbour. Two helicopters and two planes have been reported. More on this when we have further information.

Meanwhile there are just a few police officers guarding the entrance to Tim Mei Avenue near government headquarters. Metal barricades have been removed and protesters can enter the avenue without police interference - something that wasn't allowed yesterday.

7.45am: Hong Kong is once again waking up to commuter disruption, extended journeys and blocked roads. Many of the overnight protesters have headed home, although organisers are urging them to stay in place until reinforcements arrive.

In Mong Kok hundreds of people remain at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street, with many sitting reading the paper to each other over breakfast.

In Admiralty the crowd is thinning out as many leave for work or school. Organisers are attempting to rally protestersto stay and man the barricades.