Occupy Central

10,000 Occupy Central protesters would bring government to crisis point: student leader

Protester arrested in Chater Road sit-in says police would be unable to clear a large-scale demonstration as pressure mounts on officials

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 1:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 5:44pm

A larger blockade of Central than the one staged in the early hours of Wednesday morning would almost certainly be beyond the capability of police to handle, and would spark a crisis for the government, says a student leader arrested in the sit-in on Chater Road.

Lester Shum, of the Federation of Students, told Commercial Radio on Thursday that if the results of Occupy Central’s informal referendum were not addressed by the government then demonstrations would escalate further.

Shum spoke as pressure on the government intensifies, ahead of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s expected report to lawmakers next Wednesday on the public’s response to how the city should stage the 2017 chief executive election.

In the Occupy poll, almost 800,000 people called for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 election, something the central and local governments have said would be unconstitutional.

That interpretation of the Basic Law has been disputed by some.

Shum was one of the 511 arrested during the sit-in at Chater Road which followed the July 1 march.

As many as 510,000 had joined Tuesday’s march to demand democracy in Hong Kong.

Shum described the way the police removed the protesters on Chater Road as “a mess”.

The pro-democracy Occupy movement hopes to rally 10,000 people to blockade streets in Central if the government fails to deliver a plan for the 2017 election that would guarantee a genuine choice between candidates for voters.

“If there are 10,000 or more people on Central thoroughfares, police wouldn’t be able to carry out clearances,” said Shum. “The government’s crisis will accordingly loom large.”

Scholarism’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who led supporters to protest outside the chief executive’s office after the march, also criticised the police’s handling of the post-march protests as chaotic.

Officials including Lam have stated that any form of public nomination is unlikely to be included in the government’s official plan for the election.