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Go home, tung tells students in Hong Kong

Updated: 2014-10-25 08:36
By Joseph Li in Hong Kong (China Daily)

Ex-chief executive gives backing to Leung over handling of protest

Protesting students in Hong Kong should go home, Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said on Friday.

Tung, speaking for the first time since the "Occupy Central" movement began, expressed his support for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who he said has handled the protests well.

Tung told the media that neither the demonstrations nor their leaders' demands are in line with the law.

The former chief executive cited the Hong Kong Bar Association's statement that called the occupation unlawful, and the granting of a (provisional) injunction ordering the protesters occupying Admiralty and Mongkok to leave.

Tung said he is worried about the situation because there have been many negative consequences, and some "bad elements" have infiltrated the protesters.

"Although I understand the students' aspirations, what the protest leaders have demanded - "civil nomination" of candidates for the election for chief executive - is against the Basic Law and the decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, and therefore cannot happen," he said.

"There is no such thing as an international standard of universal suffrage, and the electoral arrangement could be improved in future."

Tung asked the students to stop pressing for "civil nomination", and instead set their sights on the second round of public consultation on the political reforms. The focus will be on the composition of the Nominating Committee, and there will plenty of room for discussion.

He said he saw a ray of light when the protesters had their first dialogue with government officials on Tuesday night, and hoped the students would continue talking without preconditions.

He is very worried that many occupiers seem to be sacrificing the rule of law, which he described as the cornerstone of Hong Kong's success.

"How can (people) destroy the rule of law before they attain (a higher degree of) democracy?" he asked.

Giving his backing to Leung, he said the central authorities understand the situation in Hong Kong and want its citizens to back the government and the chief executive.

"(Leung) sees things very clearly when he deals with the Occupy Central movement and grasps the problem," Tung said. "He is handling the crisis with coolness and reason, hopes to end it peacefully, and is highly trusted by the central authorities."

Turning to the allegation that Leung received secret payments from Australian firm UGL when he left his job to take part in the election for chief executive, Tung said this was standard practice in the private sector. It not a problem for Leung from either a moral or integrity point of view.

Tung believes the People's Liberation Army will not become involved as he has confidence in the Hong Kong police's ability to handle the situation.

He said he believes external forces are behind the unlawful occupation, and he promised to provide details later.

Commenting on the police's performance, he praised their professionalism and said they compared favorably with the US police.

"Politics apart, the illegal occupation has adversely affected the economy and people's livelihoods," he added. "Hotel bookings and credit card spending have both dipped by over 20 percent.

"Foreign businessmen are pondering whether they should open offices or invest here. ... and that could harm the economy and job prospects."

joseph@chinadailyhk.com

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