Date
21 October 2017
Prof. Joseph Chan (inset) has advised student activists to keep an open mind and not summarily reject any government proposals to break the current impasse. Photos: HKEJ, AFP
Prof. Joseph Chan (inset) has advised student activists to keep an open mind and not summarily reject any government proposals to break the current impasse. Photos: HKEJ, AFP

Student body should avoid antagonistic stance: Prof. Joseph Chan

A Hong Kong academic who had earlier offered guidance to the pro-democracy student activists has said that he was disappointed with the antagonistic position taken by the students after last week’s talks with government officials. 

Professor Joseph Chan of the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong feels the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) shouldn’t have summarily rejected the proposals put forward by the government at the talks last Tuesday, Ming Pao Daily News reported Monday.

Chan is a member of the think-tank of the HKFS and helped the student representatives prepare for the high-profile meeting with government officials.

The two proposals tabled by the government were not good enough for the students to end their protest, but the HKFS should not have taken an antagonistic approach in their response, Chan was quoted as saying.

The students should be aware of the fact that, it is the public, not HKFS or the government, that is the ultimate judge on matters concerning Hong Kong, the professor said. The HKFS will be biased if it only listens to the opinions of the protestors, Chan said, urging the student body to accord equal importance to the views of the general public.

As students, the HKFS has been accommodated by the society at large on many instances, but they should not take it for granted, Chan added, calling on the student body to behave more responsibly.

Criticizing the government for lacking sincerity will not by itself help push the administration to offer more at the negotiation table, a point which the HKFS needs to understand, he said.

In other comments, Chan said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is the ultimate person responsible for all the occupation and protests, as his administration has failed to take issue with the central government on the well-being of Hong Kong.

Chan believes the high-quality and non-violent civil disobedience campaign has successfully displayed to the world that Hong Kong people have dignity. Even if the campaign ends with no concrete achievements, it shouldn’t be considered a failure, he said.

Any democracy movement is unlikely to yield results within just one or two months, the professor said, reminding people that it is a long-term battle.

With tensions mounting and the society on the verge of a split, the current situation does no good to the development of democracy in Hong Kong. Chan said he understands that the students would want to see a peaceful ending to the protests. As for whether the government will work towards that, it will depend on which side of the forces within the government prevails, he said.

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