Occupy threatens city's growth, warn Norman Chan and Joseph Yam
The head of the Monetary Authority and his predecessor have warned that the Occupy movement is harming Hong Kong's economy and could have a damaging long-term effect on the city's growth.
Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, head of the authority from 1993 to 2009, said the city's prosperity rested on its role as a middleman in the finance industry between the mainland and foreign countries.
"[If] the middleman does not cooperate, is not reliable and is stirring up trouble, the mainland will reduce its reliance [on Hong Kong], reinvent the wheel … and reduce the policy preference towards Hong Kong during the mainland's economic reform," Yam said yesterday.
This would harm the city's job market, currency stability and its healthy fiscal position, he added.
"As it goes on, Hong Kong would not have universal suffrage, no matter if it is a real one, sham one, ideal one, realistic one or pragmatic one," he said.
Yam also urged those supporting the movement to consider what would be in the best interest of younger generations in the long run.
Norman Chan Tak-lam, the authority's current chief executive, told Xinhua the Occupy movement would lead to social instability.
He said that at the height of the movement, 44 retail banking branches had to shut down.
"If the current situation continues … it will harm the foundation that keeps Hong Kong's finances stable," he said. "[I] hope the acts that are violating the rule of law will end as soon as possible."
In a Legislative Council meeting, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said that shops in Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui - the main protest areas - reported business was down 80 per cent during the "golden week" national holiday.
More than half the city's bus routes were either suspended or diverted at the peak of the protests and as of Tuesday, 40 per cent of routes were still affected.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy said its anti-Occupy petition had collected 1,097,176 signatures by yesterday. Alliance spokesman Robert Chow Yung said the petition proved that Hongkongers were against the Occupy movement and, by extension, public nomination of chief executive candidates.
"Think about it - Occupy Central starts with public nomination, so these million signatures make it clear that people do not support public nomination … A system of public nomination started the Occupy movement, chaos, and disorder," he said.
Meanwhile, from today, Hong Kong Tramways will give coupons to commuters so they do not need to pay extra fare when transferring in Causeway Bay.
The protests have closed some stops in Causeway Bay and commuters, who can normally travel between east and west on direct trams, now have to transfer in the district due to the closure.
Passengers on the westbound routes could obtain a coupon from tram staff at Victoria Park stop and then continue their journey from Happy Valley to Kennedy Town for free.
Those taking eastbound routes could get a coupon at Foo Ming Street and continue their journey from Victoria Park to Shau Kei Wan for free.
The tram company has also been providing a free tram running between Victoria Park and Paterson Street after the protests began.