15 November 2019
A police officer raises his baton on a protester near  the government headquarters in Admiralty on Monday. Photo: AFP
A police officer raises his baton on a protester near the government headquarters in Admiralty on Monday. Photo: AFP

Pan-democrats shy away from student protest

Signs of division appear in the ranks of the pro-democracy camp after the three Occupy Central founders and pan-democrat lawmakers did not join the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism in surrounding the government headquarters on Sunday night, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.

Among the leaders of the protest movement, only Legislative Councilor Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats and his deputy chairman Raphael Wong were seen joining the students in the mass action.

Unlike in the past, most of the pan-democrats and Next Media boss Jimmy Lai did not go up the stage to give speeches.

Lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan from the Labour Party arrived in the Admiralty site at around 10:30pm, but did not make a speech as he had to attend another meeting. Lee admitted that he has reservations about the students’ decision to escalate the protest, saying that it may not redound to the benefit of the Hong Kong people. 

However, as the protest action had already taken place, he said he would keep a close eye on how the situation developed.

Sources said Democratic Party and Civic Party leaders opposed the student’s decision to surround the government headquarters during a meeting of pro-democracy leaders last week. They have urged the HKFS and Scholarism to consider exiting the protest sites.

The three Occupy Central convenors – Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming — plan to turn themselves in this Friday, Dec. 5, in a bid to put an end to the civil disobedience campaign, saying that there is no point taking drastic actions to get arrested.

Reporters said the student protesters meant to have themselves arrested by surrounding the government headquarters, so that they did not have to themselves in at the police station.

Some pan-democrats stressed that the students’ move would not only be considered an unlawful assembly; participants could face a more serious charge of trying to break through police lines.

HKFS secretary-general Alex Chow said their goal in trying to surround the government headquarters was to paralyze government operations and force authorities to address their demand for genuine universal suffrage.

The government has announced that all employees in the government headquarters need not report for work in the morning.

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