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Thursday, August 14, 2014, 08:41

More businesses unite to oppose ‘Occupy Central’

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong
More businesses unite to oppose ‘Occupy Central’
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, makes a speech during the press conference to oppose “Occupy Central” in Wan Chai on Wednesday. (Provided to China Daily)

Business owners, professional people and community leaders denounced the “Occupy Central” campaign at a rally on Wednesday — warning it would hurt companies, workers and ordinary citizens.

Hong Kong’s largest carrier also said that political unrest caused by the campaign would hurt tourism.

Business chambers, professional associations and community groups said they felt compelled to denounce “Occupy” because of its potential threat to Hong Kong’s reputation as a regional tourist destination and financial capital.

Hosted by the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), the Wednesday event aimed to let lesser-known business and professional leaders voice their concerns about the prospective blockade of Central.

 Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, a BPA lawmaker representing the industrial sector, urged the opposition camp to adopt a rational and peaceful approach. Leung said he believed there was room for dialogue over political reforms for the 2017 Chief Executive election.

He appealed to the “silent majority” to oppose “Occupy”. Leung said the campaign would threaten the rule of law and social stability, while hurting Hong Kong’s business environment.

Different sectors also warned of the consequences an indefinite blockade would have on the central business district. They predicted people would travel less because of fears of unrest. The logistics industry will lose money due to traffic jams. Construction materials will not reach building sites on time. Attendance at cinemas could drop significantly.

Ian Chan Yau-nam, vice-chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce said, “No one wishes to see Hong Kong being torn apart like this.” Chan said he was concerned that political unrest would distract people from coming up with business initiatives.

Executive Councilor and legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, said the “Occupy” organizers were jeopardizing the city’s hard-earned achievements.

“The Occupy protesters will put the efforts made by many generations of people at risk,” Lam added.

The BPA will take part in the anti-“Occupy” march on the coming Sunday.

The organizer of the march, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, urged participants to stay calm in response to any provocation.

Also on Wednesday, Cathay Pacific Chairman John Slosar told reporters at an annual results press conference that political unrest would affect travel for some time.

This had already been demonstrated by geopolitical tensions in various parts of Asia, he noted.

Slosar revealed that the airline’s passenger traffic for Southeast Asian destinations had slipped by 0.3 percent in the first half of 2013.

Political tensions in Thailand and conflict over South China Sea sovereignty claims had to do with weaker demand, he said.

Ivan Chu Kwok-leung, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based carrier, accepted that the situation in Thailand had now stabilized. But he added that Cathay had only been able to resume 70 percent of its Bangkok flight capacity.


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