21 April 2019
Protesters put up barricades at the entrance of the Lung Wo Road tunnel on Tuesday night. Photo: AFP
Protesters put up barricades at the entrance of the Lung Wo Road tunnel on Tuesday night. Photo: AFP

Netizens become the new occupying force

Pro-democracy protesters re-occupied Lung Wo Road in Admiralty on Tuesday night, but police quickly removed them from the strategic thoroughfare by midnight.

It seems like just another one of those scuffles in the ongoing Occupy campaign. However, there is a story behind this particular encounter between the protesters and the police, and it’s about how netizens have become a new occupying force that helped turn the movement into a guerrilla fight.

Tuesday afternoon, police announced they were going to remove some of the barricades in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok in order to clear the way for vehicular traffic.

That evening, netizens who were unhappy with the standoff and the shrinking areas occupied by the students decided to do something about it.  Through various internet forums, such as, Baby Kingdom, and, they called on fellow netizens to occupy Lung Wo Road. (Most of them are not affiliated with the major groups leading the street occupations.)

At first, many were skeptical about whether this “online-to-offline” protest could be successful. But to everyone’s surprise, the netizens’ actions were so organized and coordinated that they were able to march down the Lung Wo Road and surround the dozens of policemen inside the adjoining tunnel. 

Lung Wo Road is of a strategic value for the protesters because once it is blocked, the main access to the government’s headquarters and the Legislative Council will be closed. 

This creates a huge inconvenience for the people who work there. More importantly, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was originally scheduled to attend the Legco question and answer session on Thursday. (His office on Wednesday gave notice that he would not attend the session.) 

This could be the reason why police were quite eager to retake the road from the protesters.

As the protesters outnumbered the policemen on Lung Wo Road, extra officers had to be transferred from Causeway Bay and Mong Kong to handle the unrest in the tunnel. 

Protesters in Mong Kok later thanked the netizens for diverting the police’s attention and saving them from being ejected from the streets.

The incident indicates that the Occupy campaign has gained a guerrilla-style character. By adopting a mobile strategy in occupying the streets, the protesters have become more effective in surprising the police and keeping them busy, thus preventing them from completing their clear-out operations.

Until now, CY Leung’s government has refused to communicate with the protesters on how to narrow down their differences. 

The incident in which six policemen beat up a lone protester in a dark corner of Tamar Park had only made matters worse.

It is believed that supporters of the pro-democracy movement would flood the occupation areas in the next few days if the government continues to turn a deaf ear to their demands. Let’s just hope nothing untoward will happen.

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EJ Insight writer

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