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Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 09:05

It is time for ‘Occupy’ protesters to move on

By Leung Kwok-leung

The “Occupy Central” movement has lasted almost two months. It is time the participants, supporters, organizers, advocates, instigators and masterminds of the illegal campaign asked themselves: “What’s next?”

In my opinion, you should keep the words “local residents in general” in mind when you think about answering this question. I’m sure you are all familiar with the phrase “people cannot live without food” and understand the meaning of “water can float a boat, but sink her as well”.

The “pan-democrat” decision-makers, instigators and organizers of “Occupy” and leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), will doubtless all have misgivings about the situation, including their personal gains and losses, the gains and losses of all involved, and those gains and losses yet to come.

No one should be surprised by your selfishness, knowing you are only human just like everybody else. That said, even the most reckless know what happens if the livelihood of the masses is compromised.

Does anyone truly believe it is possible to hurt the public interest without consequences? The average man in the street may not find it necessary, but politicians and public figures all have to worry about their place and popularity in society.

If you refuse to heed the wishes of the public and insist on working against the masses, you must be prepared to live with shame and failure for the rest of your life. The people will decide to dump you like a stinking rotten shoe and never trust you again. And don’t bet on local residents’ tolerance, because they are human, too.

Here’s my advice for those who planned and organized “Occupy”: Persuade your followers to pack up and leave the protest sites. Ask them to follow your lead and end the disruptive campaign immediately.  Acknowledge your mistakes and vow never to repeat them. You just might be forgiven for having temporarily lost your moral bearings. Or you can refuse to mend your ways and see what it’s like to be treated as a public enemy.

Three representatives of the HKFS attempted to travel to Beijing last weekend supposedly to present their unconstitutional demands and unlawful standing to the central government authorities face to face. According to local news reports, the radical organization, despite its public vow not to send anyone furtively up north, secretly formed a “B Team”. The plan was for this “B Team” to somehow sneak onboard the Beijing-bound flight while the “A Team” was attracting attention. Ultimately neither team succeeded.

Beijing-based newspaper Global Times published an editorial the following day describing the HKFS act as “a ruse of self-injury”. It said the HKFS expressed “concerns” about the safety of its representatives in Beijing. But they were actually hoping they would be detained by mainland authorities for a few days to garner sympathy from their fellow HKFS members.

The pretence of a “last goodbye” was meant to win public sympathy, the Global Times pointed out. But the participants underestimated the wisdom of the central government as well as that of local residents. Otherwise, they were so calculating people mistook them for fools.

Either way the best response is to ignore them, concluded Global Times, as did Beijing.

Recently the HKFS and Scholarism called for a mass resignation of “pan-democrat” lawmakers. Presumably, this was so that the opposition camp could use the resultant by-elections as a de facto “referendum” to show popular consensus on “real” universal suffrage. But most of the politicians concerned refused to participate, fearing they may miss the chance to block the SAR government’s constitutional reform plan. The youngsters then suggested the opposition members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) resign en masse after vetoing the government bill. But they were again snubbed on the grounds that it was too early to make such a commitment.

To me, this means most opposition lawmakers are well aware that the majority of Hong Kong residents do not support their anti-government stance and have good reason to punish them in the 2016 LegCo elections. If they resign after blocking the constitutional reform bill it might be the last opportunity they have to do this as lawmakers. But they will still be condemned for denying local voters the opportunity to elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage in 2017.

Now, with the failure of the HKFS “Beijing adventure” and opposition lawmakers’ rejection of the “collective resignation” trick, it is clear the illegal “Occupy” movement has reached the end of the road. It is never going to win public support and the participants should quit before it’s too late.

Bailiffs, dispatched by the Court of First Instance to enforce temporary injunctions against “Occupy” roadblocks, began removing the barriers on Tuesday following the Court of Appeal’s final rejection of permission to appeal the decision. The court is absolutely clear the temporary injunction is justified and no appeal would have any chance of success. This is the best way for the protesters to abandon their unjust cause and go home.

The author is a veteran journalist based in Hong Kong.

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