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Hong Kong public backs end to Occupy Central

2014-11-19 08:42 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Bailiffs cleared out protesters at a major protest site in Hong Kong's financial district, as a recent public poll shows increasing opposition toward the seven-week-long Occupy movement, which political experts slammed as a failed "political show."

After police cleared barricades in five of the eight target areas, cars are now able to pass through a portion of Hong Kong Island's Admiralty district that had previously been pedestrian-only, with confrontations breaking out at one point during the clearance.

Bailiffs moved in at 9:30 am Tuesday following the granting of an injunction requested by Goldon Investment, owners of the CITIC Tower, whose entrances had been blocked by the protest.

At least 20 bailiffs and a representative of the CITIC Group came to the site, telling protesters to leave and take their belongings with them.

Protesters, who have defied the injunction for weeks, were forced to pack up their tents. Some moved the metal barricades to areas that are not included in the injunction. Around 100 police officers arrived to help the bailiffs carry out the injunctions.

"It is completely justifiable for bailiffs and police officers to carry out the clearance because there is enough evidence to show that the protest has affected the lives of other people. In fact, police officers could execute their power to clear the road and arrest people since the beginning of the movement because protesters had violated the law of illegal assembly," Stanley Chan Wing-leung, a criminal defense lawyer, told the Global Times.

The injunction ruled that barricades and tents which blocked access to CITIC Tower had to be removed in the vicinity of Lung Wui Road and Tim Mei Avenue. Anyone who continued to occupy the area will be arrested for breach of injunction and could face contempt of court, it stated.

"Violators will be put on trial and could face sentencing if they breached the law," Chan said.

During the clearance, confrontations broke out when Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the leader of Scholarism, one of the main pan-democratic groups that make up the Occupy movement, questioned bailiffs for clearing areas beyond those authorized by the injunction, particularly the junction between the two roads.

CITIC's counsel later agreed not to clear barricades on Tim Mei Avenue Tuesday. Nearby Harcourt Road remains occupied.

Protesters demanded clearer instructions on the clearance, but Chan said that the injunction was revised by judges and was sufficiently clear.

The High Court has also extended the injunctions issued earlier for Mong Kok. Bailiffs are expected to clear protest areas there within the week.

According to the most recent public poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the number of people who oppose the Occupy movement increased by nearly 10 percent from 35.5 percent last month to 43.5 percent. More than 67 percent of the interviewees agreed that Occupy protesters should withdraw entirely.

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a Hong Kong legislator, told the Global Times that protesters as well as their leaders should consider withdrawing because the movement is not doing any good to society or to the protesters themselves.

"They can continue to pursue their political demands through various legal means. Their decision to occupy main roads was wrong originally because it is affecting the lives of other people and overriding their rights. Hong Kong is a city that values the rule of law and anyone should obey laws," she stressed.

Chang Chak-yan, former CUHK political scientist, also told the Global Times that the public polls conducted had already proven that the Occupy movement is not a "majority" idea.

"The leaders of the student federation and Scholarism claimed to reflect the voices of a majority of Hong Kongers, but that is not true. They were never the majority. Polls, including the one conducted in late October, have shown that 1.8 million people in Hong Kong oppose occupying [protest areas]," he said.

He also expressed his view that the leaders of the protest were trying to paint themselves as heroic figures to gain support from local residents.

"The whole movement is just a heroic political performance. The leaders of the Occupy movement knew from the start they would not be able to achieve their goals. But they still went through with [the protests] because they thought it could make people follow them," Chang said. "'Heroic acts' such as talking to city government representatives and announcing [plans] to travel to Beijing are all for show. The movement was destined to fail."

Chang said protesters are very likely to continue demanding open nominations for the 2017 chief executive election in the future through other means. He warned that the central government will intervene if the city government continues to "spoil" the protesters.

"The protest leaders should decide to retreat now as they can still leave with dignity. Otherwise, the movement will come to an ugly end," Chang said.

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