Date
26 May 2017
Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (inset, from left) say they have no regrets about last year's protests but things could have been done better. Photos: Reuters
Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (inset, from left) say they have no regrets about last year's protests but things could have been done better. Photos: Reuters

Occupy leaders: We should have called for an early retreat

Things could have been done better including an early retreat from the streets, according to the leaders of Occupy Central which played a key role in last year’s democracy protests.

Co-founder Benny Tai said the best possible decision was made under time pressure and lacked the required information.

Because of these factors, the situation was not regrettable, Tai said, reflecting on the 79-day street occupation ahead of its first anniversary.

Tai was referring to a proposal by student leaders and some pan-democrats to set up an electronic platform to allow protesters to vote on important decisions.

The idea was scrapped four days later, Ming Pao Daily reports.

“As organizers, we should have allowed all participants a say in decision-making,” Tai said.  

Fellow leader Chan Kin-man said he has no regrets because all decisions were based on consensus.

However, Chan said the leaders should have called for an end to the street occupation as soon as the government rejected their demands. 

He described the inaction as a “lost opportunity”, resulting in growing public frustrations.

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming said he regretted the violence, especially when protesters were injured during a Nov. 30 police clearance.

However, Chu disagreed with claims the street protests were divisive.

“Only the government has the power to tear society apart,” he said.

“The government should work to defuse conflict but it is not doing its job when officials take the lead to sign up people for a competing campaign.”

Tai said people should think longer term over Hong Kong’s democratic development.

Even if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying won in 2017, he would have to step dow in 2022, Tai said.

But if Beijing refuses to loosen its grip on Hong Kong’s political development, “we may have to wait much longer, say 2047, to enjoy democracy”.

Chu said the younger generation is an important source of power and plays a pivotal role in the future of Hong Kong.

He said the upcoming elections for district councils and the legislature “are not everything”.

Chan said it is too early to evaluate the protests.

“Whether Leung will succeed in winning a second term will determine how Beijing will see the Occupy Central movement,” Chan said.

“If Leung wins, it could mean the central government is taking an even firmer grip on Hong Kong.”

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