Occupy leaders and middlemen urged some government ministers and Executive Council members to quit in the early days of the pro-democracy sit-ins last year to calm the angry crowds, but none agreed - so the authorities were under less pressure to make concessions on political reform, the Post has learned. The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of three Occupy Central co-founders, believed the resignation of any key official right after 87 tear gas canisters were fired at protesters on September 28 could have pressured both the central and local governments into compromising on Beijing-decreed reforms for the 2017 chief executive poll. "We sent the message to Beijing [through middlemen] saying we hoped Leung Chun-ying would step down as chief executive, but [we were told] it was impossible," Chu told the South China Morning Post ahead of the first anniversary of the 79-day occupation he and his allies launched in Admiralty a year ago. The sit-ins spread to Mong Kok and Causeway Bay hours later. "Another way that could have helped reverse things was having ministers abandon ship," he said. Watch: Images of police violence and confrontations linger in the mind of Occupy Hong Kong co-founder Rev. Chu Yiu-ming At the start of the occupation, tensions ran high as young protesters besieged government offices in Tamar after their ultimatum for Leung to resign expired. Two vice-chancellors, Professor Peter Mathieson of the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University's Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, appeared before the crowd on the night of October 2 to urge restraint after police were seen carrying boxes labelled as containing rubber bullets into government offices. Around that time, Occupy leaders and their allies reached out to a number of ministers and Exco members - whom Chu would not name - asking if they would consider stepping down. All efforts were in vain, he said. "It would at least have let Occupy protesters know they had achieved something and would create pressure on Leung's cabinet," Chu said. "I had very much hoped some officials or social elites would heed their conscience and stop the government's violent acts. I was disappointed and anxious ... as we needed to find a way out for the movement." With this possible "turning point" failing to materialise, Chu was further let down when dialogue between Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and student leaders on October 21 proved fruitless. Chu said his deepest regret during the 79 days was the failure of the three Occupy co-founders - himself, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man - to stop the student leaders escalating the protest on November 30, which saw police use batons and pepper spray and led to at least 40 people being sent to hospital. "I always feel miserable when I think of November 30," Chu said. "The pictures of police hitting protesters' heads hard are engraved on my mind." Chu admitted it would take time for Hongkongers to recover from the wounds arising from Occupy, but added: "The city will one day be led by the young people who experienced the tear gas today ... and that power should not be underestimated," he said.