'Occupy Central' has lost public credibility

Updated: 2014-08-20 07:16

By Leung Lap-yan(HK Edition)

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The Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD ) announced before the anti-"Occupy Central" march on Sunday that at least 1,170 civic groups had said they would join the event.

The number of participants has been estimated at more than 126,000. The actual number of participants exceeded 190,000 according to APD's estimate, which would have covered more than five soccer fields at Victoria Park.

It is without doubt the strongest display of popular will since the handover 17 years ago. It was an important follow-up to the anti-"Occupy" petition organized by the APD.

More than 1.5 million people signed the petition to express their opposition to "Occupy Central" and their support for implementation of universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law.

Hong Kong society has clearly rejected the illegal "Occupy Central" movement with a resounding "No!"

The anti-"Occupy" march demonstrated the following characteristics:

'Occupy Central' has lost public credibility

1. It was a large public rally organized by purportedly apolitical members of society - those with no apparent political preference or material incentives. Many participants were members of the "silent majority" and had probably never protested like this before.

2. Although the more than 190,000 participants in the anti-"Occupy" march was nowhere near the half million the opposition has claimed over the years, this number is held to be an accurate figure. It has not been exaggerated or inflated. The more than 1.5 million signatures collected by the APD outnumber the questionable 780,000 "votes" in the unfiltered online "referendum" organized by "Occupy Central". It also exceeds 70 percent of the total number of legitimate votes in the most popular democratic election in Hong Kong's history. This clearly represents mainstream opinion in the city.

3. The anti-"Occupy" march can be seen as the first accurate public response to the opposition's claim that it has a monopoly on popular support. It was the first major public protest by the pro-government, pro-establishment and ostensibly pro-Beijing camp since the handover. It is perhaps now clear which side dominates the political scene. This will prove significant when assessing the future political situation in the SAR.

The opposition camp has always considered itself in command of the popular will with a ratio of 6:4 (opposition 6 to pro-establishment 4). After a while even some pro-establishment parties were convinced by opposition's claims. They became afraid of voicing their political views. Some would rather remain neutral than express their political beliefs. Some had already conceded defeat even before the actual showdown began. But the anti-"Occupy" march confirmed that the true political situation in Hong Kong is quite different from what the opposition claims. This should be remembered as a turning point in the rise of the pro-establishment camp.

No doubt "Occupy Central" has lost the war as well as the battle. A majority of Hongkongers would appear to oppose "Occupy Central". The illegal movement has lost much public support. The opposition camp should abandon it and admit defeat. They should not treat the public with contempt. "Occupy Central" is not only an illegal movement that will hurt the public and the opposition camp itself, but also a bad bet. It will cost "pan-democrats" all their political chips. For the "occupiers" it is now game over!

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 08/20/2014 page9)