Hong Kong Basic Law

Stop pursuing democracy under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, Occupy co-founder Benny Tai urges

He was speaking at seminar with other pan-democratic leaders to brainstorm ways to tackle what they claimed would be a period of suppression in future

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 August, 2017, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 August, 2017, 11:12am

Hongkongers should stop pursuing democracy under the framework laid down by the city’s mini-constitution, or the Basic Law,Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting urged, warning also of a long period of struggle and suppression for the democracy movement.

At the same seminar on Saturday, localist leader Edward Leung Tin-kei also highlighted fears that the opposition camp would pay a bigger price now after Beijing took on a hardline stance against the movement.

In a rare show of solidarity, the two and other democracy leaders of varying ideologies came together at the event to brainstorm ways to defend against what they claimed would be a period of all-out suppression in the future.

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Other familiar faces included student activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-Kang and Billy Fung Jing-en, as well as recently disqualified lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.

Their joint appearance could be seen as a sign of the pan-democratic camp mending its internal rift, which stemmed from their differences in approach – ranging from moderate to radical – in pursuing democracy.

Edward Leung, the Hong Kong Indigenous leader who once called for the city to break away from Chinese rule to achieve independence, now urged fellow activists to set aside their differences.

“I don’t even know where I will be next year ... Will I end up in Stanley prison?” he said, referring to a pending riot trial over his role in last year’s Mong Kok unrest.

He also admitted that he had not come up with any specific strategy, but said that more dialogue was needed between leaders of the democracy movement.

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Wong, meanwhile, warned that those who participate in the movement must be prepared for harsher consequences under an “authoritarian” approach.

Last year, Wong and Chow were ordered to perform community service after a Hong Kong court found the pair guilty of illegal assembly over their roles in the lead-up to the 2014 Occupy movement.

Prosecutors then applied for an appeal, seeking a jail term instead. A decision is expected on Thursday.

“The decision will greatly impact future court rulings on other Occupy activists ... the new situation seems to be one of receiving months-long jail terms, instead of weeks,” Wong said.