My Take

Hong Kong protesters lose support in the name of democracy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 October, 2014, 5:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 October, 2014, 9:21am

It's one thing to fight for democracy. It's something else to challenge law and order in the name of it. At this point, those who persist in "occupying" Mong Kok and Causeway Bay are in danger of losing sight of their aims.

By fielding large numbers of people to bring Mong Kok to a standstill, they must bear direct responsibility for the clashes that followed. Saying you are peaceful does not give you immunity from moral and legal responsibility for disrupting neighbours, shutting down businesses and schools, and challenging the police. Realising their mistake, some protest leaders have called on supporters to move from Mong Kok to Tamar today. That is a wise decision.

Even 10-year-olds know Yau Tsim Mong is one of the most triad-infested districts in Hong Kong. Did the protesters think there would be no response from organised gangs? Or that police could somehow magically control a highly volatile situation involving hundreds of angry and uncooperative people, some of whom appeared to be mentally unbalanced and/or violent?

No one doubts that criminals did beat up protesters. They deserve full punishment under the law. But it was profoundly irresponsible for some protest leaders to make wild accusations without evidence that the government or even the police colluded with triads.

It's worth asking the most basic question: why occupy Mong Kok? The original plan of Occupy Central was to hold our business district hostage to force the government to make concessions. That has been an utter failure; there were simply no sustained protests there.

Beginning with student leaders last month, the protests focused on Tamar. That makes sense because it is the site of government. But Mong Kok and Causeway Bay? These places have no political symbolic value. They are where ordinary people live, work and carry on their business. Is it any wonder that many now turn against the protesters out of frustration?

Yet the protesters are disingenuous. If you disagree with them, you are a triad criminal, a paid agent of the government or a Beijing stooge.

But the more astute among them must realise they need public support to continue the fight.