20 May 2019
Student leaders are facing questions from within the Occupy group after the failed attempt to lay siege to government headquarters on Sunday. Photo: AFP
Student leaders are facing questions from within the Occupy group after the failed attempt to lay siege to government headquarters on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Student leaders face internal criticism after Sunday’s action

Student leaders have come under criticism from some fellow activists and Occupy volunteers for the decision to escalate the protests without proper planning, which led to clashes with the police and several youth getting injured or arrested Sunday night.

Some members from the rescue and supplies teams and a few volunteers at the protest zone in Admiralty have blamed the leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and Scholarism for taking a hasty decision, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

The HKFS should not have called for the storming of the government headquarters with insufficient manpower, some volunteers were quoted as saying.

Alex Chow and other HKFS leaders were afraid of “losing face”, so they did not want the protesters to retreat before the police cleared out Lung Wo Road early Monday, it has been alleged. 

The decision led to unnecessary injuries among protesters, the volunteers said.

Responding to accusations that Scholarism and HKFS leaders were not at the frontline during the action in Admiralty, the two student bodies said most of the leaders were stationed at various commanding posts in Admiralty, barring HKFS deputy secretary-general Lester Shum and Scholarism leader Joshua Wong, who were on bail and could be detained till January if they are arrested again.

Meanwhile, over 35 lawmakers from the pro-establishment have in a joint statement condemned some pro-democracy Legislative Councilors and their staff for bringing HKFS and Scholarism leaders into the Legislative Council building, making it an illegal command tower for the storming campaign.

DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung said Legislative Council is a solemn place and that it should not be used by protesters. Unlawful activities by outside groups could threaten the safety of the people inside, he said.

Pro-establishment lawmakers called for the security commission of the Legislative Council to review the access control policies at the building.

Radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung admitted that he brought the leaders of HKFS and Scholarism into the building and said he would do the same in the future. Leung rejected the criticism, saying that people from the pro-establishment camp have been inviting guests into the building on a regular basis.

Both the HKFS and Scholarism have admitted that the storming campaign was a failure, although it has paralyzed government operations for half a day. Joshua Wong said the responsibility lies with the police for the injuries caused to some protesters.

The police could have just removed the protesters from the road, instead of beating them with batons, he said.

Some protesters, meanwhile, are admitting that it is doubtful if they can continue the campaign for much longer, given the physical, emotional and financial toll that the battle has taken.

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