20 February 2019
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, flanked by other party leaders, apologized to the public and retracted his amnesty call.  Photo: TVB
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, flanked by other party leaders, apologized to the public and retracted his amnesty call. Photo: TVB

Democratic Party chairman retracts Occupy amnesty call

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai clarified that his call for the government to grant amnesty to all those involved in the 2014 Occupy Movement was his personal point of view and did not actually go through careful consideration within the party.

After the party held an hour-long emergency meeting on the matter, Wu apologized to the public for his remarks and retracted the call he made to the incoming administration of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun, a party stalwart, said party members were willing to accept Wu’s apology.

In an interview with Ming Pao, which was published on Tuesday, Wu said Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam should use her power under Article 48 of the Basic Law to declare an amnesty for people connected to the 79-day street protests, including the seven police officers jailed for assaulting activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu and retired superintendent Chu King-wai, who has been charged with assaulting protesters, along with all of the arrested activists.

Only by doing so can the new government show its sincerity to mend social divisions, Wu said.

He also called on the new government to set up an independent commission to study the pro-democracy movement thoroughly as well as relaunch political reforms outside the framework set by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on political reform on Aug. 31, 2014.

His call soon met opposition from both the pan-democratic camp and pro-Beijing parties, which raised concerns over its impact on the rule of law.

Independent lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said seeking reconciliation through amnesty before Hong Kong achieves real democracy is “putting the cart before the horse”.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu admitted he should not have rushed to echo Wu’s remarks and support his call for amnesty without any preset condition.

He said he will do self-reflection to formulate his true stand on the issue.

Yeung said amnesty is a major legal issue that requires thorough deliberation, adding that the rule of law cannot be used as a bargaining chip in politics.

Asked about her opinion, New People’s Party chairperson Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she basically agrees with the amnesty proposal but it should be done with some strings attached, such as asking Occupy participants to sign an agreement promising they will abide by the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the chief executive-elect’s office said it is not proper for Lam to comment on the amnesty proposal at the moment since the legal procedures for those arrested in connection with the Occupy Movement is still underway.

Chan Kin-man, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and one of the convenors of the Occupy protests, said amnesty should be viewed as the start of relaunching political reforms, something the incoming government should do, otherwise amnesty would be meaningless.

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