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HK protest won’t last: Leung

2014-10-13 08:36 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

'Zero chance' central govt will retract framework decision

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reaffirmed Sunday that there is "zero chance" that the central government's decision on the city's election will be retracted. Leung also said he is confident that the ongoing protests will not last long.

"If we have to put aside the [framework] set by the Basic Law and the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee's decision, I believe we all know that the chance is almost zero," Leung said in an interview with TVB, a Hong Kong-based television network, on Sunday.

The protests that have paralyzed parts of the city for 15 days over demands for "real democracy" have become a mass movement which has spun out of control due to a lack of major leaders and direction, said Leung.

The protest leaders attempted a rebound amid diminishing protester numbers on Thursday, when Alex Chow Yong-kang, leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), urged more people to join the occupation and announced that his organization will escalate their actions.

The announcements came after the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government decided to cancel talks with student representatives, condemning them for breaking down communication channels by calling for a new round of Occupy actions.

Other lawmakers echoed Leung's assertion that the protests will not continue for long, saying that protesters have to direct the discussion back to the legal framework.

"A common agenda and show of sincerity are essential for the talks to resume. What the student representatives are demanding goes beyond the SAR government's control. The NPC Standing Committee's decision cannot be overridden," Federation of Trade Unions legislator Wong Kwok-kin told the Global Times.

Leung also made clear in his Sunday interview that it is impossible for civic nomination to be included as part of the chief executive candidate nominating procedure used in the 2017 election.

"It is impossible for the Occupy actions to expand again because the only remaining protesters are some protest 'regulars,' like students and radical activists. Ordinary citizens will not join [the protests]," said Wong.

The Occupy campaign was first initiated by the group "Occupy Central with Love and Peace," founded by two university professors and a Baptist minister, before two student-led groups - HKFS and Scholarism - and another radical group called Civic Passion later took up the leadership.

The protests have seen dwindling numbers, although some protesters remain at sites in Admiralty and Mong Kok.

The Hong Kong government on Sunday urged protesters to leave the roads outside the government headquarters, and said that 60 events organized at the site had been delayed, relocated or canceled due to the Occupy protests, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.

Wong believes protester numbers reached their maximum on the first day of protests, September 28, and that the number of people the organizers can mobilize will gradually diminish as time goes by.

Agnes Chow Ting, a prominent student leader from Scholarism, announced Saturday that she has quit her role as spokesperson for the group due to the overwhelming pressure and fatigue caused by her involvement in Occupy activities.

The movement has seen an increasing backlash from Hong Kong society, as both traffic and business operations have been disrupted by protesters spreading out bedding in the roads, or even reportedly playing football and cooking hot pot on the streets.

An anti-Occupy group named "Blue Ribbon" demanded Saturday that police clear the area occupied by protesters by Tuesday night, or the group will launch a movement to reclaim the streets, according to the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao newspaper.

On Sunday afternoon, about 300 people led by anti-Occupy groups took to the streets to express their opposition to the Occupy actions, RTHK reported.

Meanwhile, Chun Wo Development Holdings recently sent out letters to several local universities, saying the company would suspend its scholarship funding because of its disappointment in the universities' failure to prevent their students from participating in the Occupy movement.

Leung told TVB that police will deploy minimum force to clear the occupied areas only when necessary.

As the movement continues to lose momentum, the Hong Kong legislative body passed a motion on Saturday to look into the Occupy protests' organization and sources of funding, including an examination of possible foreign intervention.

Both Wong and Robert Chow Yung from the Alliance for Peace and Democracy agreed on the possibility that foreign powers have interfered. Both cited allegations that some funding for the Occupy movement has been provided by Jimmy Lai, the chairman of Next Media Limited, who is in close contact with former US deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.

"It is important for the government to track the sources of funding, starting with calling for logistics providers to testify at the legislative council meeting," Chow said.

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