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A member of the public tells Federation of Students' Lester Shum that protests should not be staged at others' expense. Photo: Dickson Lee

Occupy protest organisers split over plan to hand themselves in to police

Student heads say they're staying but Occupy founders reveal they will hand themselves in

The three co-founders of Occupy Central plan to turn themselves in to police next week but vowed to continue supporting protesters under a "two-stage" surrender plan.

But the decision, made after a meeting between the trio and their volunteers on Saturday, puts them at odds with student leaders - a major force behind the sit-ins - who said they would continue until they were arrested.

Under the tentative plan, the trio - Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Dr Chan Kin-man - and a small number of core supporters will turn themselves in to police on December 5, while another group of the civil disobedience movement's volunteers may follow suit after the pro-democracy sit-in ends.

"The two-stage plan aims at cooling down tensions on both sides," said a source close to the camp. "While we want to tell society that we do not intend to destroy the rule of law, we hope occupiers can understand that we are not deserting them."

They would continue to provide medical and legal assistance to protesters.

But Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Federation of Students, said: "We students think that it's not the right moment to turn ourselves in yet as we are inclined to finish the final step of civil disobedience by being arrested."

The Occupy trio Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (left), Benny Tai Yiu-ting (center) and Chan Kin-man (right) marched during a protest in September. Photo: EPA
While both Labour Party stalwart Lee Cheuk-yan and Civil Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit ruled out handing themselves in before the movement ended, the Democratic Party will meet Occupy Central co-founders tomorrow to decide their stance.

The Occupy trio originally intended to hand themselves in last Friday but decided to postpone it to observe how bailiffs cleared the Mong Kok site, which is now subject to an injunction order.

One occupier, Sies Chan Kwan-yin in Admiralty, said he would answer the calls of Occupy founders to retreat after they turned themselves in. "I agree that the movement has to end one day, and this is the right time," Chan said.

But another occupier, Yves Leung, said she would stay.

"We have to stay to put pressure on the authorities. If we leave now, the whole purpose of the movement would be gone."


A recent poll of more than 2,100 people in the sit-ins suggested that half would retreat if asked by campaign leaders.

Meanwhile, sit-in organisers kicked off a campaign yesterday to take the "umbrella movement" to the community, drawing a mixed response.


Teenage activists from protest group Scholarism who set up a street booth in Tseung Kwan O were pelted with water bombs.

Scholarism's leader, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, said masked men had harassed them at all five street stations. Wong was pushed to the ground at the station in Po Lam, Tseung Kwan O. His 27-year-old attacker, a roadside promoter for an internet service provider, was arrested for assault.

In Wan Chai, a man (pictured above) who only gave his surname, Ngan, jabbed a finger at Shum and said the democracy fight "should not be carried out at the expense of others".


But some pedestrians gave a thumbs up to the students.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Protest leaders split over surrender