Legal and political heavyweights unite in call for end to protests
Former judicial and political heavyweights, the heads of five universities, leaders of religious and business groups and even some who sided with the protesters showed unprecedented unity yesterday in calling for an end to the demonstrations that have gripped Hong Kong for more than a week.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, now head of the Hong Kong 2020 think tank, and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun - both prominent supporters of the protests - issued statements urging students to step back for the sake of safety.
They were among about 20 parties, including former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, two retired chief justices - Yang Ti-liang and Andrew Li Kwok-nang - former chief secretary and 2012 executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen and non-official members of the Executive Council to make such calls yesterday.
Also issuing similar appeals were the heads of five universities - the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University, Polytechnic University, City University and the University of Science and Technology - and leaders of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong, the Buddhist Association, four information technology industry groups, accountancy bodies and the Liberal Party.
Their calls all had a similar theme and even the language used was almost identical - telling students "Your voice has been heard" and that they should seek resolution through dialogue.
"The only way forward is dialogue," Hong Kong 2020 said. "No one wishes to see a further escalation of violence that will jeopardise this good work and place innocent people in danger."
Tang said: "I call on students and other protesters to withdraw immediately to ensure their personal safety. The best solution to problems is dialogue, not stand-off.
"I believe the government has heard everybody's appeal and for the next step, we should establish communication in a rational and pragmatic manner, and prevent unnecessary clashes from happening again."
Tung, who stepped down in 2005 following earlier massive street protests, said: "Street actions often lead to unexpected complications, which not only will affect your studies and careers, but also endanger your safety ...
"I call on you, evacuate from the protest areas as soon as possible for your owns safety. Dialogue and communication is the way to resolve different views in a diverse civil society."