Occupy Central

OCCUPY CENTRAL - DAY SIX: Full coverage of the day’s events

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 October, 2014, 8:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 2:38pm

Good afternoon and welcome to our continuing 24-hour Occupy Central coverage. Students are waiting to hear details about the dialogue promised by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his late evening press conference. Leung said he would not step down, rejecting one of their key demands. 

Meanwhile, anti-Occupy sentiments are on the rise throughout Hong Kong as annoyed residents, business owners and anti-Occupy activists get into quarrels and clashes with protesters holding out in Causeway Bay, Admiralty and Mong Kok.  

In Beijing, the People's Daily again insisted in a commentary on its front page on Friday that the central government would not back down. 

Follow all the latest throughout the sixth night of Occupy Central here.

10.45pm Mong Kok: More than 100 police officers have been dispatched to defend its police line in case more demonstrators storm into the protest zone in Mong Kok.

10.35pm Mong Kok: The Fire Services Department send a mobile casualty treatment truck to the protest zone in Mong Kok that has almost become a battlefield.

10.25pm Mong Kok: Fighting breaks out but police failed to intervene for the first 10 minutes. Instead they formed a line about 20 metres away from the fracas, watching from a distance while guarding the main occupied road junction in Mong Kok. The two parties were eventually separated by bystanders. Police have ignored repeated calls for officers to intervene.

10.15pm Mong Kok: Police order demonstrators in Mong Kok to leave the protest site immediately via a loudhailer.

"You have created serious disruption here at the junction of Nathan Street and Argyle Street. This has seriously threatened public order. For your safety, please stop any conflict. We do not want anyone to get hurt," he said.

10.10pm The Federation of Students last night put on hold a meeting with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and blamed police for failing to protect their supporters. The meeting, a breakthrough achieved late on Thursday, raised hopes for a solution to the deadlock.

10.00pm: Causeway Bay: Paul Zimmerman, the District Councilor who opened a yellow umbrella at an official reception on National Day, addressed crowds in Causeway Bay. He started his speech with a question: "Is it better to stay one more day or come back another day?"

Zimmerman reviewed the history of the movement and asked "now where to go?"

He told students that he has been receiving complaints from people who are not able to go to work or see a doctor. But more than that he said that people are scared after seeing violent images from Mong Kok.

"Slowly you will loose your support," he said.

If protesters continue the occupation "more radicals will come" and they will keep looking for a fight until they achieve their aim.

"I am not your enemy," Zimmerman stressed. He asked the students to rethink their strategy: "come back another day."

10.00pm Labour Party leader Lee Cheuk-yan condemns the violence in Mong Kok, saying the attackers had apparent triad links, and criticised the government's indifference towards the attacks. 

"When students were protesting peacefully on Sunday, police fired tear gas at them; but now, the police did nothing to the people who actually attacked the occupiers," he said. "It has shown a big contrast."

"Triad members were mobilised to support Leung in his town hall meeting earlier. Such things have never happened in the precious administration [led by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen]," Lee said, blasting Leung for turning a blind eye towards organised crime. Lee called on officials, who still have their conscience, to step down. "It's time for [executive council convenor] Lam Woon-kwong to steer clear of Leung," said Lee.

9.55pm Mong Kok: Very few anti-Occupy protesters at Mong Kok agree to talk to the media, and those who did were often hostile. 

"I hate 689 too! Ask around here who likes 689," said Lui Suet-yee, a 29-year-old mother, who was hit in the face by fellow Occupy detractors. 

She regretted wearing a black T-shirt to Mong Kok which she said caused misunderstanding that she was one of the students. "But I support police to use tear gas to clear them [protesting students]; I want order and I need to go to work."

During her first time observing an Occupy protest with her own eyes in Mong Kok tonight, the wedding planner said the nature of her work requires her to travel around the city, and that she could not deliver her clients' orders over the past week. Her husband, who only gave his surname Shing, said police should have made mass arrests last Sunday after using tear gas. 

"There were so many protesters there, police officers there that day could have been trampled to death had they not used tear gas," Shing said.

"What angers me most is that they thought they own the roads, so I feel I have to take it back," said a finance industry worker surnamed Li in Cantonese with a heavy Putonghua accent. 

Asked why he did not chant anti-Occupy slogan the past few nights when he was in Mong Kok, he said: "The mood wasn't right over the past few days."

9.45pm Mong Kok. Huge contingent of police enter crowd to cheers of "arrest them". Public claps and cheers. pic.twitter.com/2pRX7E9ha2

— Bastien 偉忠 Wai-Chung (@BWaiC) October 3, 2014

9.15pm Anti-Occupy people continue to hurl insults and occasionally plastic water bottles at student protesters and their supporters. 

"Useless youngsters," yelled some of the anti-Occupy protesters. Occupy students and supporters called on police to arrest those throwing water bottles.  "I'm against occupy! Why are you hitting me?" shouted a female bystander wearing a black T-shirt to those responsible for the attack. 

"I look young but I'm no student!" yelled the woman.

9.10pm Benny Tai says he suspects triads behind violent attacks on Mong Kok Occupy protesters and their supporters, and accuses police of inaction. 

9pm Meanwhile, relative quiet in front of the Chief Executive's office in Tamar under large police presence. 

8.55pm Anti-Occupy protesters started throwing water bottles into the crowd of Occupy protesters. One SCMP reporter was hit. 

Later on, more and more anti-Occupy protesters started to gate-crush the human chain formed by policemen around the student protesters. Some anti-Occupy bystanders gave rounds and rounds of applause. At one point, one anti-Occupy protester threw a water bottle at the police. Police officers were not seen to take any action against the person.

8.50pm A young man with a head injury complained that he was beaten by anti-occupy protesters and that police did not intervene.

“I was being kicked when chanting slogans. “People kept beating me after I fell”, he said while his bleeding from a cut in his head. “I will definitely file a complaint (against the police),” he said.

8.45pm Mong Kok: Fighting breaks out soon after a group of masked young men arrive at the main occupied junction in Mong Kok. Taking advantage of the scene with only about ten officers present, the masked men kick Occupy protesters, who fall to the ground.

8.35pm Admiralty: Ian Mo, 28, a scientist, watched Occupy Central organiser Benny Tai address crowds in Admiralty to denounce violence against protesters in Mong Kok.

Mo, said he had been planning to join the among Kok protest this evening but changed his mind when he saw the violence first hand. "The atmosphere here in Admiralty has changed a lot. The people here were so peaceful over the past few nights," Mo said. "People feel angry because of tonight's violence and are standing up again."

Mo said he had walked past the protests in Mong Kok and seen police officers in uniform and wearing police vests who were not breaking up the violence. "There were some police standing by in the crowd but they simply did nothing," Mo said.

8.25pm Mong Kok: More than 100 angry anti-Occupy demonstrators shout insults at Occupy protesters who are being led away to safety by police.

8.15pm Admiralty: Occupy Central organisers update the crowd on the situation in Mong Kok. Protesters gathered on Harcourt Road were asked to remain vigilant. 

8.05pm An amber rainstorm warning is hoisted as downpours hit crowds in Admiralty and Causeway Bay.

8.00pm Mong Kok: Anti-Occupy protesters again try to break through a human chain formed by police. They throw bottles into the crowd of Occupy protesters.

7.45pm Causeway Bay: Protesters grow angry because police didn't make arrests after scuffles with the masked men. One woman shouts "Why didn't you do anything?" while the crowd chants "Shame on you" at the police.

7.30pm Causeway Bay: An organised group of around 20 men wearing masks broke through Hennesy Road and reached Jardine's Bazaar and began removing barricades there. Police tried to contain the situation, but fights flared up involving men, police and protesters. Police officers formed a human cordon separating protesters and the group of men. The group of men left, splitting into two groups. The student group has managed to expand outside the previously tightening cordon as Occupy reinforcements stream in. Students scream at the those opposing the demonstrations, accusing them of being hired by the government or Beijing. Few police officers are seen as the battlelines grow increasingly blurred.

7.50pm Mong Kok: Anti-Occupy protesters again try to break through a human chain formed by police. They throw bottles into the crowd of Occupy protesters.

7.40pm Causeway Bay: Protesters grow angry because police didn't make arrests after scuffles with the masked men. One woman shouts "Why didn't you do anything?" while the crowd chants "Shame on you" at the police.

7.30pm Causeway Bay: An organised group of about 30 men wearing masks broke through Hennessy Road and reached Jardine's Bazaar and began removing barricades there. Police tried to contain the situation, but fights flared up involving men, police and protesters. Police officers formed a human cordon separating protesters and the group of men. The group of men left, splitting into two groups. The student group has managed to expand outside the previously tightening cordon as Occupy reinforcements stream in. Students scream at the those opposing the demonstrations, accusing them of being hired by the government or Beijing. Few police officers are seen as the battlelines grow increasingly blurred.

WATCH: Hong Kong police maintain order, but not arresting nor questioning some provokers

7.20pm Mong Kok: The influx of Occupy Central supporters has turned their opponents into a minority, at least on Nathan Road north of Argyle Street.

7.10pm Occupy Central, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism issued a joint statement saying if the government fails to take prompt action against the attack on Occupy Central protesters, they might consider ending talks between students and the government.

7.00pm Mong Kok: The government appeals to protesters staging a sit-in in Mong Kok to leave the area in light of the chaotic situation. In a statement, a government spokesman says for their own safety they should leave as soon as possible under the police protection and called on anti-occupy opponents to cooperate.

6:55pm Mong Kok: A group of anti-Occupy protesters try to push through a human chain formed by officers to clash with Occupy Central protesters. Occupy protesters told each other to show restraint and avoid clashes.

6:45pm Mong Kok: Thousands of people, for and against the Occupy movement, are involved in a tense stand-off in Mong Kok, with physical and verbal clashes happening in every corner of the protest area. Anti-Occupy protesters continue to hurl insults at the Occupy protesters. "Go home you idiots!" some chanted.

Janice Ho, 43, said she has been at the scene for more than an hour and saw anti-Occupy protesters hitting Occupy demonstrators. "They ran towards the students and hit them. Some others tried to provoke protesters into hitting them to instigate a scene," she said. "I asked a police officer why there were no police to handle the chaos. He said he has sent some but I could not see them." 

Anti-Occupy protester Jackson Tsui, 46, said he came to tell the crowds to go home because the Occupy crowds have been affecting lives of the Hongkongers. "They are seriously affecting the lives of ordinary Hong Kong people. I do not belong to any political group," he said.

6.35pm: Mong Kok: Crowds cheer after a grey van fails to break through a roadblock on Argyle Street. The driver reverses and drives away.

6.25pm: Mong Kok: Dozens, if not hundreds, of pro-democracy protesters are rushing to Mong Kok. One of them named Kevin, 20, said the clashes would not be the end of the protest. "We have joined because we have hope, they don't have a cause." Mr Yip, 28, a teacher also rushed to Mong Kok after finishing work. He criticised police for not preventing outbreaks of violence in the area. "Students get hurt and they [just] watch. They should be politically neutral."

6.15pm: Causeway Bay: About 100 protesters remain at the crossroads in front of the Sogo shopping mall. A worker in the area, Ann Yang, 50, decided to come down to help the students. Anti-Occupy protesters are trying to scare the protesters away. Protesters are asking them to leave and an altercation is taking place. At a junction between Nathan Rd and Argyle Rd in Mong Kok, the crowds of anti-Occupy protesters have grown much bigger than the original few hundred. But the number of policemen struggling to keep the two camps apart doesn't seem to have grown much. Occupy protesters say they are worried for their personal safety and don't understand why more police reinforcements haven't been deployed.

6.05pm: The site of the Mong Kok protest site descended into violence as several hundred anti-Occupy Central demonstrators broke through police lines and started smashing up protest tents and attacking students. A group of mostly male anti-Occupy protesters appeared to be taking commands from a middle-aged Putonghua-speaking woman wearing a face mask and using a loud hailer, at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road. The thin line of police separating opposing sides was stretched to breaking point, and finally gave way shortly after 5pm. Soon after more police arrived as the tense stand-off continued.

5.45pm: Causeway Bay: Three men are shouting loudly at protesters, using vulgar language and insulting students. They threatened one female protester who was holding a megaphone and told her aggresively to shut up. A woman is screaming "clear the area". Police are trying to mediate the conflict Students are calm but concerned.

5.15pm: Police are evacuating demonstrators from the Occupy site in Mong Kok after street fights broke out when a group of some 400 anti-Occupy protesters attacked the original demonstrators. Police are struggling to maintain order. 

5.00pm: Twenty-three pan-democrat lawmakers issue a joint statement to call on protesters to keep calm in order not to offer any excuses for the police to clear the streets. Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit also urged the government to use constructive dialogue to resolve the impasse instead of making attempts to discredit the movement and "tear society apart."

4.55pm: A student demonstrator has collapsed and lost consciousness in Mong Kok at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street, where a large group of anti-Occupy Central demonstrators has encircled the Occupy group. "Clear the area" and "Support the police" chant the anti-Occupy camp.

4.50pm: Pro-Bejing supporters are making their presence felt in Causeway Bay, which has witnessed stand-offs and tense scenes throughout the day between the two camps.

4.40pm: It emerges that Hacker activists Anonymous have attacked the website of the Occupy Central movement, TVB and the Silent Majority for Hong Kong, in addition to an earlier attack on the DAB's site, making the websites inaccessible.

The group said it attacked the Occupy Central site for "occupying the occupation". Get the full story below ...

READ: 'Anonymous' hacker group brings down DAB, Occupy Central websites

4.30pm: Anti-Occupy activists in Causeway Bay tell a foreign protester to "go back to his own country".

4.25pm: Chaotic scenes persist in Mong Kok despite the establishment of a police cordon around the sit-in stage at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road.

The anti-Occupy activists are stopped by a chain of police officer as they charge at the cordon in an attempt to get to the stage.

4.20pm Commerce minister Gregory So and representatives of commerce chambers and small-to-medium-sized organisations are urging the protesters to remain calm and reasonable as the movement has already caused a great impact on the business sector.

SME representatives say businesses such as food and beverage and retail have been greatly affected, including a 60 per cent drop in the sale of watches and 70 per cent decline in restaurants as many bookings have been cancelled.

They say relationships among companies have also been tarnished because of polarised opinions about Occupy Central among members of staff.

4.15pm: There are now fewer than 100 protesters outside the chief executive's office on Lung Wo Road, where the atmosphere is calm.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun showed up at the entrance of Tim Wa Avenue at 4pm but he only stayed for less than five minutes, without talking to protesters or answering media questions.

4.10pm: Exco and Legco member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says society would pay its highest price, instead of the lowest cost as some critics suggest, if Leung Chun-ying steps down.

"Using illegal means to force Leung to resign ... will severely harm the society," she says.

Ip stepped down as security chief in 2003 after 500,000 Hongkongers took to the streets to oppose an anti-subversion law which they regarded as a threat to the city's freedom.

But Ip said yesterday she had planned to quit her job in 2002 to accompany her daughter to study abroad.

4.05pm: A group of students from Baptist University's Academy of Visual Arts have put 200 broken umbrellas to good use by hanging a giant colourful canopy of them across a footbridge leading to the government headquarters in Admiralty.

One of the team members, Kosa Law Wing-yi, 21, says the team used umbrellas broken after enduring the police's pepper spray and tear gas on Saturday and Sunday. It took three days to finish the project.

"Although these broken umbrellas cannot shield people from rain, they are UV-proved," Law says.

"We hope the canopy can witness the victory of the fight for democracy."

3.55pm: Some police officers are rotating shift again outside the chief executive's office on Lung Wo Road, accompanied by a chorus of boos from protesters outside the cordoned off area.

A few protesters wearing League of Social Democrats T-shirts have been involved in physical confrontations with officers, with police shouting that they were "cowards" and "shameful".

One young inspector appears emotional when protesters accuse him of betraying his conscience. "Who is betraying their conscience?" he shouts back before his colleagues calm him down.

3.50pm:Three members of the Macau Youth Dynamics Group have joined the Occupy campaign at the end of a two-day trip to the city.

Chairwoman Winkie Kuan Un-san says the Macau public mosly held negative views on civil disobedience, including the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. But her group has decided to support the demonstrators in person after learning from the news that Hong Kong police had fired tear gas on students. Her activist group would also like to observe the experience of the Hong Kong movement.

She thinks that Occupy could not be repeated in Macau with the same level of public support here. "Macau citizens would support us fighting for rights. But they won't support us blocking roads," she says.

3.42pm: Photos of the scene in Mong Kok, where an anti-Occupy group have removed barriers and scuffled with protesters as they urged them to end the demonstrations:

3.40pm: DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung described the hacking attack on their website as "outrageous".

He says they are doing their best to fix it.

3.37pm: Young Post tweets that police have taken a man away who tried to physically assault protesters on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay. The man complains that he has two children and can't get to work.

The protest site in Causeway Bay has witnessed altercations throughout the day between protesters and members of the public who want them to leave.

3.20pm: The pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) appears to have been the target of an attack by hacker activist group Anonymous in support of the protesters.

The DAB's website is currently out of action and a post on Anonymous Asia's Facebook page posted at 2.30pm simply reads: "Target down".

3pm: Charlotte Wong, a 15-year-old student at a secondary school in Wan Chai, says she joined the Admiralty rally around noon today.

She thinks that the scuffle this morning, in which a group of radical protesters blocked the entrance of the government headquarters while workers tried to push through the barriers, would "definitely" make some Occupy Central supporters lose confidence in the movement.

"If their actions are more extreme, I'm afraid the movement will be distracted from its original purpose: fighting for genuine universal suffrage," she said.

Schools in Wan Chai, Central and Western districts have been suspended for five days, so Wong says she will continue to support Occupy, but she hopes school will restart next week so she can catch up with her studies.

Fung Han-nah, 26, who took a day's annual leave from work to join the Admiralty rally, says her support for Occupy would not be dampened by this morning's scuffle. She says if protests continue next week, she will have to go to work and come back to join the rally when she clocks off.

2.50pm: Police put their helmets on in Admiralty ... not in reaction to anything the protesters have done but to cover their heads from the relentless rain.

2.40pm: Some six Hongkongers who rallied in Singapore in support of the pro-democracy movement have been taken in for questioning by police in the city state.

The Post's James Griffiths takes up the full story here: Hongkongers questioned by police after attending solidarity rally in Singapore

2.35pm: Scenes of chaos in Mongkok as anti-occupy protesters forcibly remove tents and barriers, got into brawls with Occupy activists. 

2.30pm: Pro-establishment lawmakers issued a joint statement today and called on government and students to find a way out through dialogue with their greatest sincerity.

The Beijing-loyalists expressed their worries over the ongoing sit-in.

"We understand students' concern over the city's future as well as their passion to pursue their dreams," the statement reads. "But the situation now is serious and has severely affected citizens' daily lives, society's operation and its business activities ... the situation is unacceptable."

A total of 28 pro-establishment lawmakers attended the press conference and all of them wore a blue ribbon, expressing their support for the police force.

They also called on the protesters to "stop and think" and halt their "illegal activities" as soon as possible.

2.10pm: Minor clashes break out between Occupy and anti-Occupy protesters in the sit-in area at Mong Kok. A group of people are seen pushing and shoving each other. Other protesters at the scene immediately raise their hands and call for calm and restraint.

The latest scuffles follow chaotic scenes earlier at noon when a group of anti-Occupy protesters got into arguments with Occupy activists. A woman was seen removing posters stuck on a lamppost.

2.05pm: Another quarrel breaks out in Causeway Bay after a man tries to forcefully remove barricades on Hennessy Road. The man shouts at protesters and accuses them of causing inconvenience to others.

He has also rallied some support from a nearby crowd who shares his complaint. Police are called and the barricades on Hennessy Road are still in place.

2.05pm: Heavy rain continues in Admiralty. The very few protesters remaining at the Admiralty rally open their umbrellas and dash under tents, footbridges or nearby buildings for cover.

1.50pm: Police are allowed to change shift in a "one-out, one-in" rotation outside the chief executive's office in Admiralty after reaching an agreement with protesters.

Some 300 police officers, who were only allowed to bring small bags, change shift under a heavy rainstorm.

They are cheered and applauded by their colleagues, but jeered by protesters, who shout slogans asking for CY Leung to step down.

One officer responds to the protesters' chants with a thumbs up sign.

1.40pm: A group of some 12 protesters plan to march to the British consulate at 2.30pm.

They will demand that the British government make provisions to open the building to provide 24-hour protection to Hongkongers if Beijing decides to crackdown on the protests.

The group, organised through a Facebook page, will also ask the British government to grant political asylum to Hongkongers in the event of a crackdown.

1.25pm: In a first-hand account of events outside government headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday, Evan Fowler writes that police tear gas attacks on protesters could result in a loss of innocence for peaceful Hong Kong:

READ: Brutal policing of protests undermines Hong Kong's peaceful way of life

1.20pm: Some more insight into yesterday evening’s meeting at 5pm between four pan-democrats and chief secretary Carrie Lam ...

According to lawmaker Charles Mok, who was present at the meeting, the group spoke for one hour about ways to resolve the deadlock between the administration and protesters. At the time they met, protesters were demanding that chief executive Leung Chun-ying resign by midnight yesterday or else they would storm government buildings.

Lam was hesitant about meeting the protesters given their calls for Leung to resign, said Mok, as this was not something the government could accept.

Mok said the pan-democrats urged Lam to meet with the protesters regardless, before events turned violent.

The standoff was later resolved when the Federation of Students issued an open letter to Lam calling for dialogue. The student group did not cite Leung's resignation as a prerequisite for the meeting, adding that political reform was the only topic of discussion.

Mok said that wider issues, such as the earlier police use of tear gas, were not discussed with Lam. “There is ample opportunity in Legco to find accountability for those issues,” Mok said.

The other attendees at the meeting were Civic Party leader Alan Leong, Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan, and Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau.

1.15pm: "Japan strongly hopes that Hong Kong's free and open system will be kept under the principle of 'one nation, two systems' so that the close relationship between Japan and Hong Kong will be maintained," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells Channel News Asia. "Japan has very close economic ties with Hong Kong, and its future is of great interest to Japan."

Japan is Hong Kong's third largest trading partner following mainland China and the Untied States.

1.05pm: Martin Lee Chu-ming, widely dubbed "Hong Kong's father of democracy", has appeared at the Occupy Central rally in Admiralty.

"I hope the chief executive can stop siding with Beijing and do one thing for Hong Kong people," Lee says. "He should go to Beijing and say 'I cannot really continue to run this place unless you give Hong Kong people what they deserve and what you have promised.'"

Lee says the protesters are peaceful and would not bring Beijing trouble if given democracy:

"Look at them. They are the world's most well-behaved and lovely protesters ... What has Beijing to fear from these people? How can they cause any damage to the state if they have democracy? They have shown by the actual conduct that they can be trusted. Any leader in the world would have loved these people."

1pm: The Causeway Bay protesters are now sitting behind the barriers on Hennessy Road after a scuffle broke out when six men tried to remove them. 

Police restored order, the barriers remain in place, and the men have disappeared into the crowd.

12.40pm: Protester numbers may have dwindled to fewer than 30 in Causeway Bay.

Judging by this photo, they seem resolute in their determination not to leave the protest site.

12.30pm: City University postdoctoral fellow Stephenson Chow argues in an opinion piece that police officers could face legal action for deploying punitive force in riot control operations, in light of a viral video showing an elderly man being pepper-sprayed in the face by police on September 28.

Read his commentary here.

12.20pm: Members of the public are expressing their annoyance with protesters in Causeway Bay, accusing them of inconveniencing them by disrupting public transport with their road blockade.

A foreigner approaches reporters to ask where he can catch the tram.

"I want my tram. You are just a bunch of rich students blocking the roads," the man says angrily.

12.10pm: Young Post's Ariel Conant has tweeted from Causeway Bay:

12.05pm: Some civil servants working in the government headquarters in Admiralty complain that the lockdown is unnecessary and say it has only created more chaos.

“It is actually safe to go to there. There is no disruption outside and you can go there without being stopped or harassed by any protesters,” says a government employee working there who refused to be named.

“I don’t know why Leung Chun-ying made the decision to shut down the building. Maybe it is a pressure tactic to show how the protests have caused disruption to public services?”

11.55am: US Consul General Clifford Hart has urged both sides to engage in dialogue in a message posted on Facebook:

Dear Friends,

By now, you will have seen the statements about the situation in Hong Kong from the White House and the Secretary of State. America’s leaders are focused on developments here. As each of you thinks about the future, I just want to repeat my government’s strong support for dialogue as the best means to get beyond the current impasse.

Over the months I’ve been Consul General, I have been struck by the good will I find among all the people I meet – across Hong Kong's political spectrum, in and out of government. Surely the common desire for Hong Kong’s welfare provides an excellent basis for launching dialogue.

Dialogue can be challenging, especially when feelings are strong and issues clearly drawn, but it is all the more important precisely at such times. As both America’s senior diplomat in the SAR and a lifelong friend of Hong Kong, I sincerely hope dialogue can begin as soon as possible.


11.45am: There's a tense atmosphere outside the chief executive's office at the Admiralty government headquarters as protesters argue with police and among themselves. Police took some time to convince the protesters to allow an ambulance carrying medical supplies in but they eventually relented after "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung helped to mediate.

Minutes later however, protesters prevent a truck carrying food for police from passing through, saying they believe it may hold more than food – and could possibly contain weapons.

11.40am: Executive Council convener Lam Woon-kwong is urging protesters to exercise restraint as they wait for negotiations with top government officials on political reform. Speaking on an RTHK phone-in, Lam describes the government's decision to hold talks with student leaders as a breakthrough and urged protesters to move to public parks if they wanted to continue their demonstrations.

Lam also refused to make comparisons between the current situation and those that lead to the June 4 crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989. "The best means is negotiation, not confrontation." he said.

"When I look at Chinese history, even if one side used force to make the other side submit to its demands, the other side will not be content. Scars would also be left in everyone's hearts. These would hardly be recovered."

11.31am: In a statement published in Chinese, the Hong Kong police public relations department "strongly condemns" protesters blocking roads near Lung Wo Road today. Here's an English translation:

"The protesters amassing outside the chief executive's office on October 3 have blocked roads near Lung Wo Road and seriously disrupted east-west traffic on Hong Kong Island, almost paralysing nearby traffic. It also has an impact on emergency services and the public's normal life. This conduct is irresponsible and illegal.

"Also, the protesters refused passage to police vehicles carrying food,drinking water and medical supplies to officers on duty. This is a very inhumane act and unacceptable anywhere in the world

"It is also unacceptable for protesters to block passage of police vehicles as frontline police staff need to change shifts regularly and continue to carry out their duties.

Police have treated protesters near Lung Wo Road with the utmost tolerance, but express strong condemnation against such disruptive and interfering behaviour.

"The police urges protesters on the site to cooperate with police staff and stop such irresponsible and illegal conduct, and leave the site in an orderly and peaceful manner as soon as possible."

11.27am: The two dozen or so protesters in Causeway Bay are vastly outnumbered by shoppers as business at Sogo appears to be picking up and police activity in the area suggests the protest site is vulnerable to an imminent removal.

Protesters are remaining vigilant after police came to clear road blocks at Lee Garden Road. Hollis Yu, who stayed at Causeway Bay overnight, said that he would continue to come to the protest until Hongkongers have universal suffrage."Our right to vote for our next Chief Executive must be granted," Yu says.

Meanwhile, several members of an anti-democracy movement group are shouting at protesters, winning cheers from onlookers. Some complain that they do not care about democracy but complain that road blocks have brought inconvenience to their life.

11.20am: Some photos just in of earlier scuffles between police and protesters outside central government offices:


11.13am: Non-civil servant staff who went to work at government headquarters this morning have started to leave the area.

They have been told they would not have to work this afternoon.

11.05am: Residents of the Swiss capital Bern plan an event to show solidarity for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters tomorrow.

Details here.

11.02am: Benny Tai denies that the protest has gone out of control but calls for protesting citizens to uphold the spirit of a peaceful movement and be tolerant of other citizens, including civil servants who need to go back to work. "I hope we consider our needs, especially humanitarian needs, with tolerance," Tai says.

He also warns protesters about the police's "public relations war", where officers were seen moving supplies of rubber bullets and tear gas into the chief executive's office yesterday. Tai suspects that the police were trying to provoke the frontline protesters to confront officers.

11am: Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily ran a commentary criticising the protests for a third consecutive day this morning. Today’s front-page commentary said “some people” ignored the One Country, Two Systems principle and the Basic Law and provoked “illegal activities”.

The commentary said the goal of these people is “to make sure their representatives, including those who resist the central government, become candidates of the chief executive” in 2017.

It also said “a small number” of the Hong Kong public has no proper understanding of the One Country and Two Systems principle, nor do they acknowledge Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.

People’s Daily ran commentaries slamming Occupy Central on page four on Wednesday and page one yesterday.

10.50am: Opinion is divided on on the protests among those returning to work in Central today. Here's a cross section of public opinion:

"If you're old enough, think back to the 1989 June 4 protests in Hong Kong. Everyone was organised, no one got in anyone's way, no one charged at the police ... this is what we want to see. Drivers have a right to the road too, and it's wrong to occupy the streets so no one else can use them. "You can't expect to achieve something in one day. You're stopping kids from going to school; how is that peaceful? If I go to your front door, put my hands up, block the entrance and claim I come in peace, would you agree with me? I don't think their argument holds." Wang Kwok-Kuen, 59, works in finance

"I don't really support Occupy Central, but someone should stand up to the government to make themselves heard. They're obstructing several key areas of the city but it's not that bad as long as the MTR stays open. In other countries, you often hear about dock workers or people at airports going on strike, and even then they get support." Clayton Mak Chin-wah, 46 works in a bank in Central

 "If we don't speak up now, we may not get another chance like this. The area is safe, so I'm not worried about how it'll affect people going to work. I can't see this going beyond a week. Their enthusiasm seems to be waning because I saw more people during the first few days. I'll give them two more weeks, anything beyond that is going too far." Or Wai-Wah, lives in Tin Shui Wai but works at an investment bank in Central

"They need to set a precedent now or who knows what happens in the future. It seems it's a lot easier for funds to flow and payments to be made through Hong Kong rather than mainland China banks. There are people worried about how this may affect China's economy or if there will be some type of domino effect to Hong Kong. They've talked about money flows and they're talking about Singapore as an alternative, but there's nothing in data form." Stephen Mackenzie, 30, from the US, works in Central in the shipping business

10.40am: Police are removing barriers on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay.

Whether this signals the start of a wider crackdown on protests in the area remains to be seen, however.

10.30am: In an commentary published in the Post today, former Hong Kong governor under British rule Chris Patten calls on the Hong Kong government to rectify its error of misjudging public sentiment by ensuring that the second round of consultation on political reform is, above all, open and honest.

You can read the commentary here.

10.25am: Police have arrived at the scene in Mong Kok, where protest marshals are battling with a man in a white T-shirt and his friends, as they move sandbags back and forth from the barricades. Marshals are now sitting on the sandbags to prevent the men from removing them.

The man in the white T-shirt was briefly questioned by police, along with his friend. His friend was overheard telling him "to save some energy and do other stuff later." It's unsure what he was referring to, but the man in the white T-shirt is now seeking divine intervention as he prays that the protesters leave.

10.17am: Yvonne Leung of the Federation of Students tells the Post that students have yet to set a date to meet Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.

She said the students want a "live televised" meeting, and also would like to involve representatives from Occupy Central and Scholarism. At best, they would like Lam to address the crowds in Civic Square.

10.15am: More on the ambulance controversy earlier as a policeman was taken to hospital outside the chief executive's office on Lung Wo Road:

Some 30 riot police made a brief appearance to escort the ambulance away, before retreating back behind police lines

A police commander said a colleague had "collapsed" and was in "serious condition", and therefore needed to be taken to hospital.

Protesters were reluctant to move back initially, as they said they were cheated yesterday when police used the same reason to ask the crowds to move back - only to take the opportunity to beef up their weaponry with rubber bullets and more tear gas.

After about 10 minutes of heated debate between police officers and protesters, the ambulance was allowed to leave.

10.10am: There's a story doing the rounds among the protesters about a potential imposter among their ranks.

The rumour goes that a man speaking Cantonese with a mainland accent tried to talk the crowd out of the protests and to abandon the stand-off with police outside PLA headquarters, where fewer protesters were gathered, at 7pm last night. 

The man, who was wearing a checked short-sleeved shirt and board shorts, tried talking to anyone who would listen to him. After a few curt rebukes from the crowd, his phone rang. His ring tone? March of the Volunteers – China's national anthem. The crowd groaned and no one spoke to him after that, despite his insistence that he was an Occupy Central supporter

10.04am: Here comes the rain again ... protesters put on their raincoats and the symbolic umbrellas go up.

Unfortunately for the police however, they're going to get wet:

10am: Several men are removing sandbag barriers at the protest site in Mong Kok on the junction of Sai Yeung Choi Street South and Argyle Street.

A man in a white T-shirt, who claims to be a former policeman but who now runs a beauty parlour nearby, is involved in a war of attrition with the protesters.

Every time he carries sandbags to the pavement, marshals quickly pick them up and carry them back to their original position.

The man did not give his name but vowed to carry the sandbags away until tonight, adding that he could not believe his action would not inspire others to do the same.

9.56am: Traffic has slowed to a standstill on Lung Wo Road with the jam stretching back for 1km in the eastbound lane.

Some people will struggle to get to work on time today – the first working day after the National Day public holidays – because of the protesters' road blockade.

9.45am: There are only around two dozen protesters left at Causeway Bay, among them university students and four secondary school pupils.

Keith Tsui, a third-year student from Open University who skipped class to join the sit-in protest today, thinks that CY Leung's decision to let Carrie Lam talk to protesters is a good thing, but he wants the government to take a further step. "We want universal suffrage.That's our first priority," he said.

Whitney Tsang, 16, from a secondary school in Wan Chai said she would stay at the protest scene until the government gave in to protesters' demands.

"Leung Chun-ying is a hypocrite and what he said is stupid," Tsang said.

9.40am: Occupy organisers Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man are negotiating with protesters at Tamar bridge. 

9.30am: A police spokesman has asked protesters to allow an ambulance to leave central government offices.

A police officer has collapsed and needs medical treatment, the spokesman said.

CNN reporter Ivan Watson says the officer is in serious condition, according to police. The protesters applaud as an ambulance is allowed to pass through the crowd.

9.25am: This just in from the Post's multimedia team:

Time-lapse footage of all the protest sites, mapped out.

9.15am: Tamar bridge is again the scene of conflict when security company staff used force to push open the barricades, after protesters refused to let their employees into work.

"We aren't trying to make things hard for you, but they are subcontracted; if they don't work, they don't get paid," said a man with Guardian Security Management, which is subcontracted by the government.

Earlier, an employee said: "We are turning from supporting you protesters to not supporting you now, after this ... You may be paid a monthly salary, I'm paid a daily one."

It was all too much for some civil servants earlier as they broke down in tears when they couldn't get into the office.


9.07am: Here's a couple of shots of the protest site in Mong Kok this morning:

9.05am: The westbound lane of Lung Wo Road remains blocked, after a dispute between two factions of protesters in which about 10 young men who insisted on the continuous blockade prevailed.

The quarrel started when a few volunteers who had been diverting traffic suggested it was time to release the lane because there were only about 20 protesters remaining while most others were on the pavement, and secondly, because the demonstration had already forced the government to close its headquarters.

"What's the point of occupying if you release the road? Are you working for the Communist Party?" one protester shouted, arguing to keep the road blocked.

An old lady tried to physically stop him, while others, including Cheung Yin-tung of the Democratic Party, tried to reason with him verbally.

"If we block this road, traffic on the whole of Hong Kong Island will be jammed!" a young woman said. The argument ended after a few minutes as the pro-blockade faction managed to maintain the barricades.

9am: Central government offices have been closed for the day and it is understood that civil servants would either work from home or at alternative government offices under the contingency plan activated.

Here's the government's statement:

"As the access roads leading to the government headquarters in Admiralty are now blocked, the Administration Wing announced that today (October 3) the CGO will be temporarily closed. Staff working in the CGO are advised not to go to the workplace and should work in accordance with the contingency plans of their respective bureaus or departments. All visits to the CGO will be postponed or cancelled."

8.50am: The regular daily meeting of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with principal officials has been moved to Government House – Leung's official residence – as the government headquarters in Admiralty has been besieged by protesters.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing have been seen to arrive on the complex on Upper Albert Road in their cars. 

Also joining are director of Leung's office Edward Yau Tang-wah and Information Services Department Patrick Nip.

8.45am: A few protesters scuffle among themselves as they argue over whether to remove the barricades on the section of Lung Wo Road right outside the People's Liberation Army building.

8.40am: A group of about 50 rowdy protesters on a bridge leading to government headquarters in Admiralty have decided not to let government employees pass – much to the annoyance of a 60-year-old cleaner at CGO, surnamed Tam (pictured below).

"I have to eat, so I have to work!" she said before the protesters relented and let her in. "You've ruined Hong Kong now!" she said after the 10-minute stand-off.

8.35am: An article on the front page of today's edition of the People's Liberation Army Daily reports that 1,000 new recruits at the PLA's Hong Kong garrison had had their first lesson of a political education course on the eve of National Day.

The Beijing-based newspaper says the 24-lesson course that will last for two years aims at "making the voice of the Party the strongest voice in the camp ... to ensure absolute loyalty, absolute purity and absolute reliability in the garrison".

8.30am: No one ever said that fighting for democracy would not be tiring.

One protester at the Occupy site in Mong Kok is still enjoying sweet dreams despite the noise starting to build around him as the protest enters a sixth day...

8.20am: Senior Superintendent Ronald Ip Chi-keung said the force "strongly condemns" the protesters who refused to let two trucks carry food and water in for police overnight.

"We had two trucks that were carrying food and water into the government headquarters for our colleagues. But regrettably, the protesters who occupied Tim Wa Avenue did not let them in," he said.

When asked why the force did not accept the protesters' suggestions to let them pass the food, Ip said it would not be reasonable nor suitable.

8.15am: Some government officials are working out of the former central government offices on lower Albert Road in Central this morning due to the presence of the Occupy movement outside government headquarters in Admiralty.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was spotted driving his car with "FS" on the license plate into the former government offices at around 7.30am.

8.07am: Two westbound lanes on Lung Wo Road are occupied by protesters, but since marshals have been diverting westbound traffic onto an eastbound lane, while the remaining lane is still open for eastbound cars, the road blockade's impact on road traffic is minimal.

However, a taxi driver heading towards Central seems frustrated about the ongoing protests, as he slowed down his car to scold protesters. "Go on, you are blocking the way!" A protester shouted back.

8.05am: The Federation of Students said it was awaiting details on the dialogue and haven't ruled out escalating their protest. 

8.00am: Dozens of bus routes have been suspended or changed due to the protest. Click here for a complete list

7.44am: A quick recap of the night's events:

*Tensions flared in front of CY Leung's office in Admiralty after police were seen ferrying what looked like anti-riot gear - including rubber bullets - into the government headquarters. The protesters accused the police of attempting to sneak the equipment in using an ambulance. Police in a press conference said today they would not rule out using tear gas and "appropriate force" if the situation escalates tonight.

*University vice chancellors Peter Matheison (Hong Kong University) and Professor Joseph Sung (Chinese University) spoke to students in Admiralty, asking them to keep the protest peaceful. 

*Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying vowed not to resign despite an ultimatum from students demanding that he step down. Leung announced minutes before the midnight deadline set by the students that he had appointed his deputy Carrie Lam to lead a team of senior officials to meet with student leaders.

*In the early morning hours, students blocked two trucks that the police said contained food were blocked by protesters. The protesters' demand to inspect the trucks and the offer to hand-deliver the food were rejected by police.

*Showing a united front, the three main protest groups - Occupy Central, the Federation of Students and Scholarism - vowed to step up coordination in the future.

Click here for the detailed run-down of last night's events.