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Leung called on pan-democrats to reconsider their position on the government's reform package. Photo: Edward Wong

Peaceful protests can lead to violence, CY Leung says amid Hong Kong ‘bomb plot’

Acceptance of peaceful illegal protests would lead those with violent tendencies to justify bloodshed, Leung Chun-ying said, following the seizure of explosives allegedly intended to be set off amid the reform debate.

Lai Ying-kit

Acceptance of peaceful illegal protests would lead those with violent tendencies to justify bloodshed, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said today, following yesterday’s seizure of explosives allegedly intended to be set off during this week’s debate on electoral reform.

Commenting on the case for the first time, Leung said Hongkongers must express their views in a lawful manner. He said no one should try to rationalise any illegal activities, regardless of whether they were violent or non-violent.

He said some groups in the past, such as at unlawful assemblies and during the Occupy protests last year, had sought to use non-violence as a reason to explain their illegal activities. He said this would encourage advocates of violent action to follow suit.

“Even if these activities are non-violent, if we rationalise them, we will only let people with a violent tendency use the same reason to rationalise their violent behaviour,” Leung said before the Executive Council meeting this morning.

“Hong Kong’s community should not tolerate any illegal activities, no matter whether these activities are non-violent or violent,” he said. “Illegal is illegal.”

READ MORE: 10 activists held in ‘plot to detonate bombs’ as Hong Kong debates reform bill

A day before the government’s proposal on political reform is tabled to the Legislative Council, Leung said police had sufficient forces to ensure that the debate and vote could not be stormed by protesters.

He also urged pan-democrats to rethink their position on the reform proposal seriously and support the package, saying they had made “multiple significant misjudgements” of situations in the past.

The misjudgements included their belief that they could “use illegal means and pressure from the masses to force the central government into agreeing to implement universal suffrage in Hong Kong in ways that are not in line with the Basic Law and the [National People’s Congress] standing committee decisions,” Leung said.

“I hope pan-democrats can sum up their experiences in the coming few days to avoid making another misjudgement now,” he said.

“They should [do so] in one particular matter. That is their thinking that the central government can, in future, for some reason, suddenly agree to implement plans for universal suffrage in Hong Kong that are at odds with the Basic Law and the NPC standing committee decisions after the current proposal is rejected,” he said.