As the first anniversary of the Occupy protests nears, the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) pledged to reform its organizational structure to regain the trust of its constituency in the pro-democracy campaign.
Former HKFS secretary-general Alex Chow dismissed as “cheap criticism” efforts by some quarters to blame the student body for the failure of the 79-day civil disobedience movement, Ming Pao Daily reported on Wednesday.
The HKFS leadership has come under fire following the protests with roughly half of the student bodies in tertiary educational institutions terminating their membership in the group.
Current secretary-general Nathan Law stressed that the HKFS will not disintegrate despite the current disunity as no other organization could take its place in the academic sector.
The HKFS has recently tabled a consultation paper on a proposed structural reform, which calls for a higher degree of involvement of students in the decision-making process in the organization.
According to Law, the new proposals, which could secure approval and take effect by March next year, will help boost the image of HKFS and recognition of its decisions.
Commenting on whether it was a mistake for HKFS to announce an escalation of the campaign by surrounding the government headquarters on Nov. 30 last year, Chow said there is no such thing as a “best time”.
“You would lose half of the supporters by retreating at any time,” Chow said. “What’s important is whether you can bear the consequences.”
“We just treaded along and improvised as the situation unfolded,” Law said. “There was no script prepared for the Occupy protests.”
Chow admitted that the Nov. 30 action failed to exert pressure on the government and resulted in many injuries while signaling the failure of the campaign.
But he stressed that there was no right or wrong decision, and that everyone had to shoulder the consequences of their actions.
Looking ahead, Law said his mission is not just to save HKFS. The proposed reform is not just intended for the student organization but more for the entire ecosystem of the pro-democracy movement, he said.
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