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Reverend Chu Yiu-ming raises a mug bearing a picture of his granddaughter. He hopes democracy will bring a better future. Photo: Dickson Lee

'If we bow to fate, we will lose everything', says Occupy Central's Reverend Chu Yiu-ming

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming fears the Communist Party and jail, but will take part in Occupy Central because the fight for democracy is too important

"I am really afraid of being sent to jail … I am really afraid of the Communist Party," says Occupy Central co-founder Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, his usually confident voice shaking as he speaks.

Within weeks, perhaps days, the veteran democracy fighter and his two comrades, academics Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, will lead volunteers to break the law by blockading streets to protest against Beijing's restrictive framework on the city's political reform. What happens next is anyone's guess - but the clergyman knows he could end up behind bars.

Chu avoids rhetoric, but in an interview with the he admitted his fear while reiterating his determination to join the mass sit-in.

Having grown up on the mainland, he witnessed the cruelty of the Cultural Revolution and retains his fear of the party.

"But I am ready to conquer and pay the price [for democracy]," he said. "I am already 70 years old … I come out just in the hope of clearing some obstacles and paving a smoother road for our next generation, so that they can have an easier life."

Chu laments an atmosphere which has left Hongkongers feeling frustrated and helpless at their inability to control their fate, but says people should not move away or simply accept the situation, adding: "If we bow to fate, we will lose everything."


The Baptist minister has devoted more than three decades to the fight for democracy, and said Hongkongers' dissatisfaction had deep roots, back to the 1980s when they had no say in talks over the then-colony's future.

"And now - allowing a nominating committee formed by some 230,000 people to select the chief executive candidates - is it fair?" he asked, referring to the 1,200-strong body Beijing insists must pick candidates before voters elect the city's leader in 2017. "Why should everything be decided by the central government? We Hongkongers are human!"

And Chu warned that an administration that lacked the support of those it governed could only lead to bad governance.

"Suppressing dissenting voices isn't the way to build a harmonious society," he said. "We three [Occupy organisers] would not stir Hong Kong up."


In recent months, social movements have split the city's leading Christian churches.

Former Catholic leader Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun warned that voting in the 2017 chief executive under restrictive conditions laid down by Beijing would be meaningless. By contrast, Anglican Archbishop the Most Reverend Paul Kwong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was criticised in July for urging Christians to "remain silent" in the face of social conflicts as Jesus was silent on the cross.


Chu, whose Chai Wan Baptist Church is not affiliated to either diocese, said while it was normal for different churches to express different views "it was a worse thing to cite the Bible and create misunderstanding among the congregation or the society".

"For example [if you cite the Bible] to say that we must submit to authority, you [could be] reading it too simply … in fact if rulers are disobeying God, we won't obey them either," he said.

But Chu said Christians of other denominations should not look enviously at a leader like Zen but instead be grateful for the cardinal's support for democracy.


"You can say that he doesn't represent the [Protestant] church, but his expressions … reflect the church's basic core values," Chu said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: 'If we bow to fate, we will lose everything'