Split within Occupy deepens as splinter group challenges leadership
The split among pro-democracy protesters deepened last night with radicals confronting the campaign leadership to demand an equal say on the movement.
The drama began as dozens of protesters who answered an internet appeal to confront the leadership marched, some wearing masks, to the main stage of the Admiralty rally site at 8pm.
They carried placards reading "you do not represent us" and shouted at speakers on the stage.
"We have not been allowed to express our views freely on stage," Samuel Chuang, one of the challengers, said. "If we say something the emcees do not like, they then add their comments later to 'correct' our speech."
Protesters who had been camping at the site described the radicals as "troublemakers" and said they would film any who caused trouble so they could be held accountable later.
Chuang also said the marshal system set up to keep order at the protests was unnecessary. No one, he said, should have the right to overrule others in a social movement, especially when those keeping order were not elected by the people.
He admitted he was present when clashes broke out early on Wednesday when a group of masked men tried to storm the Legislative Council building, but said he did not want to see any violence.
Other radicals, though, said marshal team leader Alex Kwok Siu-kit should not have acted to block Wednesday's action.
Oscar Lai Man-lok of student group Scholarism - one of the key organisers - said the main stage was always open to different voices. He said the marshal system was in place in case of incidents such as one when Apple Daily publisher Jimmy Lai Chee-ying had offal thrown over him.
Wong Yeung-tat, leader of radical group Civic Passion - several members of which are alleged to have been involved in Wednesday's disturbances - called on protesters not to storm the stage. "Pan-democrats have formed a united front with the police and labelled the strugglers as thugs," he said. "I call on everyone to be restrained, to remain calm and rational and not to fall into the trap. [We] should not offer pan-democrats an excuse to retreat, as they have planned."
Lai said the organisers would be happy to hold a public debate on the marshalling system with the group.
Meanwhile, a report by British television station Channel 4 has quoted a senior member of a Hong Kong triad gang as saying that Occupy protesters were infiltrated by troublemakers. The man - called "Mr Kong" - said triads were paid by the Communist Party to disrupt and discredit the movement.