Date
18 August 2017
Occupy Central organizers (left photo) say there is no room for discussion once the NPC announces its decision on electoral reform. At right, anti-Occupy Central campaigners say everything is ready for a massive march on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ
Occupy Central organizers (left photo) say there is no room for discussion once the NPC announces its decision on electoral reform. At right, anti-Occupy Central campaigners say everything is ready for a massive march on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ

What our fair city needs more than politics

If nothing else, the battle between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing forces for the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people is turning our fair city into a highly politicized society.

This all seems to come down to the partisan line “you’re either with us or against us”.

The fact is most Hong Kong people are politically neutral and would prefer to be left to go about their lives.

But they can’t help being caught up in the fevered campaigns by the opposing camps to bring down each other.

Either way, Hong Kong’s silent majority has a lot at stake.

The Beijing-backed pro-establishment camp, which includes the Hong Kong government, has been turning up the political heat with an all-out effort to counter Occupy Central and its pro-democracy supporters.

Now, not only government agencies and organizations are involved in the fight but also schools, banks, even sports clubs.

There are more than 100 counters across Hong Kong where people can sign up for the anti-Occupy Central campaign and express their support for an election reform package preferred by Beijing.

On Aug. 17, this effort will culminate in a march by pro-Beijing supporters expected to be in the tens of thousands.

A leaked e-mail from Bank of Communications invites department heads and general staff to join the march. Some employees said the bank will check attendance.

Also, Bank of China and China Construction Bank want their employees to “proactively participate”. China Life will ask employees for a valid excuse if they are absent from the march.

There is speculation organizers will pay a certain amount of money to each marcher.

The rate is HK$350 for one hour for China State Construction employees and HK$300 and a day’s compensation leave for employees of Bright Smart Securities, according to sources quoted by the local media.

That is just the pro-establishment side.

On the opposing side, Occupy Central is getting ready to launch civil disobedience as soon as the National People’s Congress approves an electoral reform package that does not meet its expectations.

China’s parliament is expected to announce its decision at the end of August during its annual session.

Pro-democracy groups and some student organizations are lining up behind Occupy Central in a sit-in protest that could amount to a crippling blockade of Hong Kong’s main business and financial district.

On Thursday, Occupy Central convenor Chan Kin-man was quoted as saying there is no room for discussion once the NPC decision is announced.

That leaves the vast majority of Hong Kong people who are not politically aligned one way or the other being highly and needlessly politicized.

What our fair city needs is some breathing space.

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SC/JP/RA

EJ Insight writer

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