The street occupation by pro-democracy activists could last until March or April, or even until June, next year, if no progress is made on proposed talks with central government officials in Beijing, a student leader said.
The occupation could continue until May or June 2015 when the Legislative Council is expected to review the bill on political reform, said Alex Chow, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS).
Of course, the comment is based on the assumption that the police do not clear out the protest sites by force, Chow said, according to a Ming Pao Daily News report Friday.
Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung and the Eating Establishment Employees General Union chairman Kwok Wang-hing said they were shocked by Chow’s remarks, as they fear there will be a huge adverse impact on their sectors if the protests continue into next year.
According to Chow, HKFS’ priority at the moment is to establish a dialogue with central government officials. The protests will go on unless concrete results are achieved, he said.
“The bottom line is, we are not backing down until the Legislative Council reviews the political reform bills, perhaps in May or June 2015,” Chow added.
“The government used to simply turn a blind eye in the past where there was no social movement,” the student leader said.
“Now there is an opportunity for us to make changes since we have gathered a bit of momentum from the campaign so far. That the campaign is ongoing is more or less a key thing for us.”
Chow said he fully understands the desire of many members of the public, as revealed in recent surveys, for the students to leave the streets and go home.
That said, what is more important for the activists now is to take the campaign to the community level and explain to people the real meaning of occupation, he said.
HKFS has been sending teams to engage in dialogue with people living near the three protests sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. “People may be a bit reluctant in the beginning, but gradually they become a lot more receptive,” Chow said.
The student leader believes police will refrain from any street clearance operation immediately after the APEC meeting that will conclude in Beijing next week. Even if police officers clear the sites for a while, protesters could re-occupy afterwards, he said.
Political commentator Ivan Choy said organizers of protest campaigns should discuss their plans more with the public, instead of just acting according to their own will. Public support is key for success of the protests, he said.
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