Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung has urged student activists and government officials in Hong Kong to enter into a dialogue to resolve the pro-democracy standoff that has rocked the city for the past couple of weeks.
The crisis must be brought to an end soon if the city is to preserve its status as a key global financial center, he said.
“I understand their demands. I’m happy to see young people fighting for their dreams, but they have to think carefully if they are obstructing others in pursuing their dreams, and whether they are at the risk losing the support of the people,” RTHK quoted Leung as saying.
“Public support is also critical for the government. The best solution to resolve the crisis is dialogue,” he said, adding that “both sides have to show sincerity before dialogue starts”.
Leung warned that the political crisis could be a “turning point” for the city’s future development as a global financial center, RTHK reported.
“If the political chaos continues in Hong Kong, it’s quite natural for the central government to accelerate development of onshore financial markets like Shanghai and Shenzhen as a contingency plan,” the former finance chief was quoted as saying.
“Rule of law” is one of the key elements for the financial sector, Leung noted.
Occupy Central movement has already caused economic damage to the city, he said, urging protesters to think about the impact of their actions on the city’s long-term development.
Leung admitted that he had burst into tears after news that police had used tear gas against protesters.
“It’s the first time I cried in a decade, as it was the most dangerous moment. I was so worried that students will get hurt,” he told Apple Daily in an interview.
“I cannot say whether the crisis will be resolved peacefully,” he said, adding that political reform should be carried through in a “gradual” manner and involving all parties.
Leung declined to comment on his specific role in a think tank led by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.
Leung, who served in Tung’s cabinet from 2002 to 2003, said last month that he would be happy to join the think tank if an invitation came. He resigned in July 2003 over “Lexusgate”, when he was accused of buying a Lexus car shortly before he raised the first-registration tax on newly purchased vehicles.
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