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Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 08:46

Newly founded group vows to ‘protect’ Central

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong
Newly founded group vows to ‘protect’ Central
A volunteer of the newly formed “Protect Central” group sticks posters against the “Occupy Central” campaign on a minibus in Central on Tuesday. (Roy Liu / for China Daily)

A group was formed on Tuesday to “protect” Central amid a looming shutdown at the business district — as “Occupy Central” organizers applied for a sit-in on Oct 1 — the country’s National Day.

Outside Jardine House in Central on Tuesday afternoon, Tuen Mun Rural Committee Chairman and former head of the Hong Kong Law Society Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, said a new group known as “Protect Central” would resist the “Occupy” campaign.

“We should understand that we may not be able to achieve everything in one go. Instead, we should take things one step at a time,” a statement from the group says. “More importantly, ‘Occupy Central’ is not a viable option in striving for universal suffrage.”

Sharing the stage with the outspoken lawyer were representatives of white-collar employees, catering service providers, members of the transport, tourism and retail industries, together with members of the financial sector. There were 22 core members in the working group.

Ho told China Daily they would avoid discussions on electoral reform. Their only plan is to put up posters which say: “Don’t Occupy Central. Preserve Our Rice Bowls” on about 300 taxis and minibuses.

With thousands of jobs at stake, Ho appealed to “Occupy” supporters to consider who will be hurt most by the campaign.

The group’s convener also disagreed that they would further fuel political division. “Hong Kong people do not bury their heads in the sand like ostriches,” said Ho.

“We are not starting a shouting match. We are telling them to take a break and think again.”

The announcement of the new initiative coincided with the introduction of new signs that “Occupy” plans its first sit-in on the streets of Central on the evening of Oct 1.

A group affiliated with one of the “Occupy” initiators, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, applied to police on Tuesday to hold a sit-in on Chater Road on Oct 1 from late afternoon to 11:59 pm.

Another “Occupy” initiator, law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that “when others celebrate the big day of the country, we will host a feast in Central to fight for democracy in Hong Kong.”

He had earlier said the blockade would occur on public holidays. While Oct 1 is National Day, Oct 2 is the Chung Yeung Festival holiday.

Julius Ho was concerned that “Occupy” organizers have vowed to carry on after the “first” wave of protests. “They never say when they will end.”

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a core member for the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, attacked the timing of staging a sit-in on the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions co-founded the alliance in July with Robert Chow Yung of the “Silent Majority for Hong Kong”. Altogether 1.3 million people signed their month-long petition and 193,000 were estimated to have marched on Aug 17 to express their opposition to “Occupy Central”.

Local officials had in the past repeatedly said they were prepared to clear a blockade or even stop riots in Central. Police managed to effectively clear a “rehearsal” for the “Occupy” sit-in that followed the July 1 protest.

President Xi Jinping, according to members of a delegation who returned from Beijing on Monday, has pledged his support for the Hong Kong authorities. Xi has said he supports them taking resolute action against anyone who breaks the law.  
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