Occupy Central

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

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 September, 2014, 8:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 1:11pm

Good afternoon and welcome to Hong Kong's live coverage of Occupy Central.

After a night of protesters taking to the streets and sleeping on main roads throughout the city, dawn broke with no sign that the demonstrations would ease off.

There is widespread disruption across the city today. Stay tuned for all the breaking news. 




Watch: Occupy Central leader: Movement "beyond imagination" and "touching" 

7.39pm: Chants of "Down Leung Chun-ying" are ringing out at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road in Kowloon as people rush to the sit-in area after work. Out of politeness for those not taking part, a loudhailer is used to ask protesters to make space for passers-by as the crowd extends towards Prince Edward.

7.25pm: Stores across the Occupy zone have shut their doors early

Causeway Bay's Sogo closed at 6pm, its owner Lifestyle International confirmed, while two nearby branches of Chow Tai Fook have closed their doors. 

Pacific Place had a number of closures including The Swank, Coach, Kate Spade, L’Occitane, Jo Malone, Crabtree & Evelyn, and all of the mall’s Beauty Bazaar, except for Burberry, which includes Chanel, Nars, Natura Bisse and La Prairie. At least two shops inside Admiralty MTR were shut including The Body Shop.

Two former lawmakers joined the protest at Causeway Bay, addressing the crowds.

"We are very moved by the enthusiasm and maturity of the students. We felt that we had to come here to praise them," said Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, former lawmaker an member of the Civic Party.

"They are also very organised. Everybody has a task. It's very touching and moving," Aundrey Eu Yuet-mee said.

"The fundamental thing for democracy is participation and responsibility, which they are showing. How can people say that Hong Kong is not ready? How you deny democracy to people like this?," Ng said.

7pm: A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warned the United States and other foreign nations to stay out of Hong Kong's affairs, saying the issue is China’s internal affairs.

“Hong Kong is Chinese Hong Kong, is a special administrative region of China, and Hong Kong affairs are completely China’s internal affairs,” said Hua Chunying at the ministry’s regular news briefing in Beijing.

Officers in Hong Kong were seen carrying huge iron chains to lock the front gate of Police Headquarters in Wan Chai as protesters occupied the road outside.

6.37pm: Protesters are very much in control of Connaught Road, where the police presence is practically nil. Side streets, however, appear to be full of officers, seemingly awaiting orders. Many protesters are wearing black and yellow, which seems to be the adopted colours of the movement. A huge cheer went up when someone on a bridge over Connaught Road unfurled a Hong Kong SAR flag.

Harcourt Road in Admiralty is a sea of people, extending all the way to Central, while Chater Road is filling up too.

The mood seems to be upbeat in all areas.

6.30pm: Benny Tai has delivered an emotional speech in Causeway Bay, praising the achievements of the Occupy movement and calling once again for CY Leung to step down.

Tai said that although their initial aim was to Occupy Central, Hong Kong people had succeeded in occupying Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok.

He condemned the force used yesterday against protesters. "People use peace and hope, while the government used tear gas and pepper spray," he said..

Elsewhere Carrie Lam hinted to a press briefing that the government would delay the next public consultation, originally scheduled to start next month.

"Yesterday I said we would launch the second round consultation in the near future, but having considered [the recent developments], we understand that the current social atmosphere is not good for such a consultation exercise. So we would assess the timing and situation, and launch it at an appropriate time," she said.

"Our goal is still to achieve universal suffrage for the chief executive in 2017, to allow 5 million qualified citizens to [have a vote]."

She insisted the government had "sincerely listened to public opinion".

6.19pm: Police defended the use of tear gas on unarmed protesters yesterday as the "most appropriate means" of tackling the demonstrations, and did not answer media questions on whether the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had personally approved it, nor whether higher level of force will be used.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Assistant Commissioner Cheung Tak-keung insisted "minimum force" was used. Tear gas was used 87 "times" at nine different locations while the force had no information on how many rounds or canisters were used.

"After repeated warnings, police used the minimum force in order to maintain a distance between the protesters and the police so that the injuries will be prevented," Cheung said, "We used the pepper spray, the situation is [was] not improved, so that's why we used the tear gas."

He added: "In fact the tear gas did not cause the injury to people; people might feel irritated, not comfortable, so that they might cease their violent behaviour charging the police cordon."

6.02pm: The UK Foreign Office issues a press release to say it is "monitoring events in Hong Kong". 

"The UK expresses concern about the situation in Hong Kong and encourages all parties to engage in constructive criticism."

The statement said it was Britain’s position that under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set out arrangements for the transfer of sovereignty over the territory, Hong Kong’s "prosperity and security" were underpinned by fundamental rights which included the right to demonstrate.

"It is important for Hong Kong to preserve these rights and for Hong Kong people to exercise them within the law," the statement said.

Meanwhile rumours swirling that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam had resigned were quashed today when she told media they were "groundless".

5.30pm: Robert Chow Yung, a key member of an anti-Occupy Central group, questioned how much longer organisers expected the protest to last and what they expected to achieve.

“So Occupy Central has happened now. But what next?” he said.

Chow urged protest organisers to disperse demonstrators in districts such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay to minimise the impact, claiming that organisers had pledged to stop events that were not part of their original plan.

He said this was because Occupy Central organisers had promised they would stop events that were not under their original plan.

“What I am asking them to do is hand the places such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay back to the public. “I am not asking them to hand these back to the police,” Chow said.

5.19pm: Hong Kong police say tear gas was unleashed on protesters 87 times yesterday.

5.05pm: The number of people joining the protest groups seems to be increasing at a rapid rate. It's now standing room only outside Sogo in Causeway Bay, where numbers have just been boosted by a large student group.

Phoenix Lo, 19, a student at the city university arrived at 10 in the morning and he his planing to stay until tomorrow morning. "I will not leave. I will stand for this fight," Lo said.

Meanwhile Occupy Central co-organisers Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming left the Tim Mei Avenue - the venue of occupation - for their first time since Sunday's early morning where they announced to the civil disobedience movement.

The duo won applause and cheers from the sea of protesters gathered at Harcourt Road. "Hang in there! Never give up," the crowd chanted.

4.48pm: A Victoria Harbour fireworks display scheduled for 8pm on October 1 in celebration of National Day has been cancelled, according to a press release from the Hong Kong government.

“It is anticipated that main access roads leading to hotspots for viewing the fireworks display may continue to be seriously affected,” the announcement stated.

4.38pm: Civil servants working in government headquarters in Admiralty have received an email telling them to go home. Is this a possible sign of another round of police action, or are authorities worried for the safety of workers? The email reads:

In the light of the building up of crowds around CGO and in the vicinity of Admiralty, staff are advised to leave office as soon as possible.

Colleagues attending court need not return to office today after court duties.

4.27pm: About 1,000 social workers and social work students gathered at Polytechnic University to show their support to the Occupy movement. The Confederation of Trade Unions, organiser of the event, said many of the social workers will be going on a strike until the Occupy movement comes to an end.

4.05pm: Occupy Central co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man has called on Hongkongers to sustain the occupation until the government addresses the people's calls.

He clarified that Occupy only urged people to retreat if the police use weapons which could hurt people.

He said Leung Chun-ying's speech on TV last night, where he said the police would neither seek the PLA's help nor shoot protesters, had shown the government will not escalate its crackdown.

"Hongkongers are fearless towards tear gas and think it is manageable," he said. "So I would not suggest protesters retreat at this moment."

Chan said the occupation of different districts was initiated by the people themselves and thus "it was not Occupy Central to decide the duration of [the demonstration]". He added that the government should remove fences from around Civic Square and that CY Leung should step down.

3.45pm: Crowds are growing between Wan Chai and Admiralty, stretching into Central. Hundreds are also massed in TST. Entire streets have been taken over with protesters sitting peacefully or milling around.

Police say they will hold a press conference at 4pm.

3.36pm: Ambulance crews on Lamma are taking no chances - wire mesh anti-protest screens have been fitted to the island's emergency services vehicles... 

3.10pm: A spokewoman for Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong said about 80 to 100 "delivery staff members of Swire Coca-Cola HK who are members of a union have been on strike today and staged a sit-in outside the Siu Lek Yuen plant".

"The Company understands that it is an action in response to union calls for strike in support of the Occupy Central protests. The strike was initiated by the related staff of their own volition and the company has expressed understanding about the action."

3pm: The leader of the Catholic Church in the city urges the government to exercise restraint and put Hongkongers’ safety first when dealing with Occupy Central protests.

“With reference to the regrettable events at Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai over the past few days, may I sincerely call upon the Hong Kong SAR government to put the personal safety of fellow citizens as her prime concern,” Cardinal John Tong Hon said in an “urgent” appeal.

Tong urged the government to exercise restraint in deployment of force “with a view to listening to the voice of the younger generation and of citizens from all walks of life".

2.05pm: The 'Umbrella Revolution' is gaining traction online as a name for the latest protests, thanks to the brollies deployed by demonstrators in an attempt to protect themselves from police pepper spray yesterday.

Check out more designs here...

1.55pm: From 4pm on Sunday until 11am on Monday, 46 people were injured, according to the Hospital Authority - 33 men and 13 women. They are either in stable condition or have already been discharged following treatment, it added.

Meanwhile in Causeway Bay mainland tourists are watching the protesters by SOGO with interest.

Jessica Jiang, aged in her 20s, came to Hong Kong on Sunday. She said she was not surprised by the rallies in the city. "I think it's very normal," she said. "Hong Kong is a place with freedom of speech. I pretty much agree with the protesters."

Another tourist surname Li, from Inner Mongolia, said she didn't know why people were on the streets but wanted to learn more.

1.44pm: Australia warns its citizens to be cautious about Occupy Central protests, issuing a travel alert advising people to exercise “normal safety precautions in Hong Kong” due to Occupy protests.

The alert is the lowest in its four-level system.

1.26pm: It seems like police may not have taken all their riot police off the streets after all. This picture taken by an SCMP photographer near the Bank of China in Admiralty at 12.08pm, shows a line of riot officers standing behind their shields.

1.20pm: Police have appeared to switch to a softly, softly approach, downing their weapons and trying to reason with protesters.

A team of police negotiators arrived at a protest site outside SOGO in Causeway Bay, trying to persuade demonstrators to leave the scene.

"We understand you have been protesting for many hours," said senior inspector Hui Yee-wai. "We understand you are very tired and want to express your demands and views. But what you are sitting on is one of Hong Kong's major roads, and many citizens need to use the road to go to work, school and hospital. We hope you also show your care towards these citizens and let them resume their normal life as soon as possible."

Protesters, however, responded with chants of "police, strike!"

Read: how Hong Kong protests were covered around the world 

1.13pm: Condemnation of yesterday's heavy-handed police tactics continues.

Lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man, supporting protesters in Mong Kok, said: "Not a stone or a glass bottle has been thrown over the past week, but police decided to resort to tear gas. All people did was raise their hands."

Lee Cheuk-yan, leader of Labour Party and the Confederation of Trade Unions, said workers at Coca-Cola's Sha Tin factory decided to go on strike today after their union's emergency general meeting this morning.

Noriyuki Suzuki, general secretary of International Trade Union Confederation Asia Pacific, condemned the crackdown in a letter to the Hong Kong branch (HKCTU) chief Lee Cheuk-yan.

"The government and police must stop suppressing the peaceful assembly and apologize to the people," Suzuki said.

Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said: “This is a sad day for Hong Kong. Pictures of our Police Force firing pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of unarmed protestors will shame our government in front of the whole world."

1.04pm: Hong Kong or Vanilla Sky? Deathly quiet Chater Road resembles a scene from the Tom Cruise movie where everyone vanishes from New York...

12.45pm: Commentary in Chinese state media has taken an unsurprisingly critical tone of the protests. The state-run Global Times carried an English-language editorial this morning which said that “the radical activists are doomed.”

In a hastily deleted article on the paper’s Chinese language website, it was suggested that the People’s Armed Police, the nation's paramilitary force, could assist Hong Kong police in putting down the protests. “Support from the armed forces could quickly restore stability” in the city, the article said.

12.35pm: Hong Kong Bar Association says in a statement it is "deeply disturbed by, and deplores and condemns, the excessive and disproportionate use of force" by police yesterday.

"There can be scope for disagreement on the underlying political debate or demands leading to the demonstration. Some demonstrators may have committed criminal offences," it stated. "However, none of the above matters justify the use of excessive or disproportionate force by police against unarmed civilians as a matter of law and common decency."

12.15pm: The US Consulate General has issued a statement:

The United States strongly supports Hong Kong's well-established traditions and Basic Law protections of internationally recognized fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. We do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong's political development, nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.

Hong Kong's stability and prosperity have long benefited from a vigorous dialogue among its citizens and a firmly established tradition of the peaceful and orderly expression of differing views. In accordance with this tradition, we encourage all sides to refrain from actions that would further escalate tensions, to exercise restraint, and to express views on the SAR's political future in a peaceful manner.

12.08pm: The Education Bureau says it “deeply regrets” the move of the Professional Teachers’ Union - the largest trade union of teachers in the city - to call on secondary school teachers to go on strike. It has appealed to teachers to be “professional” and not to disrupt students’ studies.

Meanwhile students in other schools have boyoctted classes. Ming Kei College students are out of their classrooms, according to Scholarism, which posted photos on its Facebook page showing the whole school gathered in the hall, singing and share their thoughts. Some students of Baptist University are also having an assembly on campus.

Police have barricaded the upper part of Cotton Hill Drive, near Hong kong Park.

Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, who is joining the rally outside SOGO in Causeway Bay, said he was arrested and detained for 10 hours yesterday and was released at 10pm. He said the police told him he could still be charged despite his release.

Ho condemned the police's using tear gas against protesters.

"The police were being totally unreasonable," he said. "There was no need to apply such physical force against such peaceful people."

11.50am: Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-Yan was in tears when he said: "We have lost hope in our government, so the only solution is for Leung to step down, and for the national legislature to retract its decision on Hong Kong political reform."

"We are proud of our people ... Because they stepped back in face of tear gas, but came forward again peacefully... without damaging any public property."

11.40am: Bizarre scenes outside Sogo in Causeway Bay, where an elderly woman wielding a stick wrapped in red cloth attacked a protester.

Lam Po-ying said she was taking a bus from Aberdeen to Central to see a Chinese medicine doctor, but the bus detoured to Causeway Bay, so she got off and tried to see what was happening.

She said one of the protesters swore at her so she lashed out. Lam said she refused to support the protesters because of the inconvenience they caused.

11.33am: Riot police have been taken off the streets as "citizens have mostly calmed down", the government says.

A statement on the government website, posted only in Chinese, says that main traffic thoroughfares have been severely congested due to roadblocks by demonstrating citizens.

In the statement a government spokesperson calls on demonstrators blocking roads to disperse soon and clear paths for traffic, so as to let emergency vehicles pass and partially restore public transport service.

The statement calls on people to remain calm and disperse peacefully as soon as possible.

11.25am: Twenty-three pan-democrat lawmakers have issued a joint statement, calling for an emergency meeting to debate on a motion to impeach Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying.

Reading the statement on behalf of the camp, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the pan-democrats would "safeguard the people's non-cooperative movement and call for Leung to step down".

"We urge the administration to stop suppressing the people violently, it should talk to the people; it should also re-open Civic Square and resume the people's reasonable right to use the area," he said - referring to the government headquarters' forecourt which was broken into by student activists on Friday.

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said the violence used by the government has "shocked" the international community.

11.05am: Pupils of two more schools have walked out of classrooms and gone 'on strike' - Po Leung Kuk Vicwood K. T. Chong Sixth Form College and SFTA Lee Shau Kee College.

Liu Cheuk-laam, a form 6 student from the school who faced tear gas in Admiralty last night, said: “We’re in a totally different situation now after the tear gas. All students should protest."

10.51am: Alex Mak Ying-kit, a 52-year-old stockbroker, lives in Repulse Bay and works in Sheung Wan. He took the bus to Causeway Bay and walked for more than an hour to get to his work, but said he didn't mind because he got to witness the protests. He said he was disappointed with the government for not listening to the people.

"I never thought the protest would have gone on for so long, and I would have joined in if more people had stayed." Mak said. "As a Hong Konger, if you don't make an effort like this, then it'll be curtains for Hong Kong within five years."

10.30am: Demonstrators on Connaught Road have been picking up litter as some hand out food and water.

In Admiralty protesters have moved plant pots onto tram tracks to stop the traffic.

In some areas of the city those on their way to work have cheered protesters for their actions.

Mr Chan, 51, who is in the accounting business, said the government had “underestimated the power of the people”.

Rosa Lai-Yuen-bing, a 50-year-old housewife with two children, said she had stayed with protesters until 4am, despite her 11-year-old daughter pleading with her not to be outside. “CY Leung should come and talk to us,” she said.
In Causeway Bay free breakfasts are being handed out.

10.02am: Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.43 per cent in the opening 15 minutes of trade. Property shares were the big early fallers, down around 2.6 per cent, while finance shares slightly outperformed the market, down around 1.1 per cent.

Meanwhile many jewellery shops in Mong Kok are closed.

In Causeway Bay shopkeepers and managers are still deciding whether to open up in many areas.  

Department store Sogo will open at 10am, security guards said. But management were seen guarding the front entrance. Many shops in Lockhart Road remain closed.

9.25am: About 200 students from CNEC Lee I Yao Memorial Secondary School in Kwai Tsing District have gone on strike, according to Lee Shing-ho, a Form 6 student from the school. The strikers are sitting on the school’s playground and in the hall.

“The senior students took the initiative to leave their classrooms. This is not a strike led by the teachers. We want to protest police’s violent behaviour,” Lee, a co-organiser of the strike said.

He said several other schools in the same district had also seen walkouts.

9am: The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has launched an emergency contingency plan to ensure the smooth running of financial markets.

The city’s de facto central bank said in a statement that it would keep the interbank market and the city’s currency board mechanism operating as usual.

As of 0700 on Monday in Hong Kong some 17 banks had announced the temporary closure of 29 branches in affected areas. The branches would remain closed until further notice the HKMA said.

Click here for the full story...

8.38am: Scores of protesters are drawn to Queensway, opposite Pacific Place, where police have set up a defensive line of about 50 officers. After a minor standoff they head back to Harcourt Road.

Crowds occupying Hennessey Road outside Sogo begin to thin as the sun rises. Umbrellas brought to fend of pepper spray are now being used to shield tired protesters from the sunshine.

Protesters are still occupying Gloucester Road in Admiralty.

Ken Chung, street dance artist and arts administrator, 28, said he has been volunteering to co-ordinate the first aid operations and supplies donation in Admiralty and Causeway Bay.

Volunteers continue to bring food and water supplies to Causeway Bay. Chung said there is enough water, food and masks for those in need.

8.35am: A logo for the protest? 'Umbrella revolution' symbol shared on Twitter - referring to the brollies protesters were using to block police pepper spray.

8.20am: Around Admiralty police are demanding some people show their ID cards if they want to cross cordons in order to get to work.

Announcements in Admiralty MTR stationstate that exits A, B and C2 are closed due to damage.

8.05am: Headaches are on the cards for many parents as they struggle to make alternative arrangements for their children due to a raft of school closures. Overnight it was announced that all schools in Central, Wan Chai and Western areas would be cancelled.

Meanwhile meetings of all Legco committees and visits to the Legco complex have been cancelled today, the government announces.

8am: Thousands are still occupying roads in Admiralty, Mong Kok, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. As traffic gets heavier delays are increasingly likely.

More than 200 bus services have been suspended or re-routed around the hotspots.

Mr Ngai, an office worker living in the Southern District, said he had set off from home half an hour earlier than usual because the bus he usually took was re-routed. But he had no complaints about the traffic disruption caused by the protest. "It is understandable," he said.

HKEx’s securities and derivatives markets will continue to operate as normal, it was announced this morning.

7.40am Police "negotiators" flanked by officers from media liaison groups use a loudspeaker and ask protesters to leave Harcourt Road.

"You can help other people get to work. This would be a great step to help many citizens. Many people will be able to get to work and they will be very grateful.

"Show your sincerity in front of the media and other citizens."