1. What is the ultimate goal of the Occupy Central campaign?
2. When is the best timing for the occupy movement?
3. Where will the occupy movement take place?
4. What actual action will be involved? Why “occupy”?
5. The Occupy Central campaign involves illegal action. Is it then against the rule of law?
6. Why would Occupy Central use non-violent action, instead of force, in pushing genuine universal suffrage?
7. Why would participants volunteer to bear legal responsibilities?
8. How many participants are needed for the Occupy Central action? Must there be 100,000 people?
9. Is blocking roads and then surrendering to the police the only way to participate in Occupy Central?
10. Who can take part in Occupy Central? What are the roles of the young, the middle-aged, and opinion leaders?
11. Is every participant of Occupy Central required to sign the letter of intent? Why is it necessary? What is the letter of intent about?
12. Can people who have not signed the OCLP letter of intent join the occupation on the spot?
13. Why is it necessary to have a public oath-taking ceremony that is affirmed by a retired judge?
14. How does OCLP organize its participants? Why isn’t the movement led by an alliance formed by various organizations from the civil society?
15. How do social groups assist the work of OCLP?
16. How can people participate in the work of OCLP?
17. Why does OCLP announce its plan in advance?
18. How is the movement financed?
19. What are the requirements of the chief executive electoral system advocated by OCLP?
20. Why doesn’t OCLP require the chief executive electoral system to conform to the Basic Law?
21. When will OCLP produce a specific proposal on the chief executive electoral system?
22. Does OCLP demand that pan-democratic candidates win the chief executive elections?
23. Why did OCLP hold democratic deliberations before taking the occupy action?
24. How many rounds of deliberation are there? What are their respective functions?
25. Why will the proposal decided under a deliberation process still need to undergo the procedure of civic authorization ? What is such a procedure?
26. How can OCLP ensure the movement will be non-violent as it is supposed to be when a large number of people assemble at the main roads in Central?
I must state very clearly that this proposal does not aim at challenging the sovereignty of the PRC under CCP rule in Hong Kong. Neither does it challenge “one country, two systems,” nor strive for Hong Kong independence. I have no intention to overthrow Leung Chun-ying with this campaign either. This campaign is not a “revolution” because Occupy Central does not aim at overthrowing the existing system. The Occupy Central campaign has one and only one goal, without other associations, and that goal is our aspiration for Beijing to fulfill its promises as stipulated in the Basic Law and the relevant decisions made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee: to elect the chief executive and the entire members of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region via universal suffrage. The definition of “universal suffrage” shall conform to the international community’s understanding of an “universal and equal” election, not some “universal suffrage” with Chinese characteristics. This means all eligible voters enjoy equal number, equal value of vote, and the right to participate in a election with no unreasonable limitations.
Since this campaign requires a long time to prepare as our “ultimate weapon,” it should not be kicked off prematurely. The goal of Occupy Central is the implementation of a genuine universal suffrage, hence its timing must be relevant to the universal suffrage proposal. To date, Leung Chun-ying remains hesitant about the political reform consultation time table, yet it cannot be delayed further than early 2014. Judging from past experience the consultation paper may only result in a heap of questions in lieu of any substantive proposals. The consultation may take three months before the government put forth its official proposals, meaning approximately May or June 2014. The Legislative Council may deliberate before the summer holiday. If the government’s proposal conforms to the requirements of a genuine universal suffrage, then the occupation would not be necessary. However, if it fails, then the best timing for the occupation would be around early July 2014.
Why Central? This civil disobedience campaign is initiated by the civil society against the government. In order to achieve the goal of justice we must attack its weakest link. For any civil disobedience campaign to be successful, the opponent must be forced to pay a price if it refuses to make concessions. Locating and targeting at the opponent’s most vulnerable is tantamount to making the opposite side pay a higher price thus enhancing our own chance of success. As a well-known international financial center, Hong Kong’s lifeline lies at its economy, and the Central district is at the heart of this financial hub. We choose to launch our campaign in Central precisely to attack Hong Kong’s most vulnerable spot, to make the special administrative region government and Beijing pay a serious price for not honoring their promise of universal suffrage.
Another point to consider is that Central is not a residential district so staging a movement in Central would cause minimal disturbance to ordinary people. We plan to focus our actions in Central instead of launching various activities in different parts of Hong Kong in a bid to aggregate our manpower at one spot and thus increase the difficulty of forced dispersion, unless the government employs greater force.
Occupation refers to the blockade of transportation around Central by participants. This specific action intends to attack the opponent’s weakest link, to paralyze Hong Kong’s financial center via occupation and disrupt its operation. Other illegal actions (for example burning the SAR flag) may not generate enough political pressure or political power.
Letting other people understand and support the cause of justice behind our civil disobedience campaign is another factor for its success. Therefore, our actions strive to cause minimal inconvenience to our fellow citizens in a bid to maintain our moral appeal. In light of this, our occupation does not target at a full blockade of transportation. Instead we aim at stopping vehicles from entering certain areas. Residents in the affected areas shall be able to leave in case of emergency (for example a patient on his way to hospital) via a reserved route. For the same reason, we will inform everyone to avoid driving to the affected areas prior to our occupation.
In order to introduce changes to the current unjust law and system, it is vital for the cause of justice behind the civil disobedience action to be visible to everyone. Detention, prosecution, or even punishment of individuals who have no direct personal interests but barely challenge an unjust law or system by means of limited illegal behavior will generate a great moral appeal to the majority of people. This may turn them from being apathetic and silent in the face of injustice to recognizing our goal of justice and even taking uncooperative actions to force the government to change the existing unjust law and system. This kind of illegal actions aim at making the law more just and therefore do not violate the rule of law. On the contrary, they aspire to achieve a higher level of the rule of law, one that conforms to justice.
Since the government has the strongest organized force that is unmatched by protesters, the use of violent resistant action is equal to using one’s weakest link to fight against the government’s strongest, which is doomed to fail. Furthermore, using violence will likely cause unwanted consequences, like injuries of innocent people, which will diminish the campaign’s moral appeal.
Even though it is important to increase the social cost of governance, the real power of civil disobedience lies in the shock to the society and the moral appeal caused by the punishment of people looking for justice. Therefore, paralyzing Central is not the key to the movement but rather the political realization generated by the government’s detention, prosecution, and punishment of participants in response to the huge social costs generated by the movement. Such political realization will motivate the entire society to reflect on the significance of democratic universal suffrage to Hong Kong’s future governance which ought to be fair, just, and efficient. When non-participants are moved by Occupy Central, the chance of a successful movement will be greatly boosted in favor for the introduction of genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
The purpose of civil disobedience is not to overthrow the entire legal system but rather aim at changing it and making it just. So, generally speaking, participants of civil disobedience respect the existing legal system, as seen by their willingness to be held accountable for violating the law. The purpose is to expose the injustice of the law by showing how people who act out of justice, not personal interest, get punished, thereby rallying the support of the society for changing the unjust law.
The figure of 100,000 is only an estimate. It shall not be regarded as the maximum or the minimum (of course the more the better). However, it takes at least 100,000 people to show to the society that a considerable number of Hong Kong people are willing to sacrifice for the city’s democracy by taking part in civil disobedience and volunteering to turn themselves in to the police.
We need at least 100,000 participants to make it difficult for the police to disperse, so that the police will not be able to move protesters one by one like they did in previous demonstrations. The police may then need to employ greater force to disperse the protesters, but doing so will increase the political cost to the government and lead more Hong Kong citizens to sympathize with the protestors in their cause of achieving genuine universal suffrage.
There are various ways and degrees to participate in Occupy Central.
Participants can choose to be supporters of this campaign, providing assistance such as delivering supplies to those who take part in blocking the road or even just stay around on the pavements cheering for them. Those who choose to join the blockade can decide by themselves whether to surrender to the police afterwards. The principle of Occupy Central is for participants to decide their own levels of involvement according to how much personal sacrifices they are willing to make for achieving democratic universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Everyone in Hong Kong is welcomed to join. However, juveniles should not take part in road blockade because of the criminal liabilities entailed. Nonetheless, young people are welcomed to be supporters and their roles are very important to the entire campaign, otherwise those who take the actual civil disobedience action of road blockade will not be able to sustain. Having said that, I’m hoping more Hong Kong people aged 40 or above will join us as a way for the elder generation to fulfill their duty for the well-being of the younger generation in the fight for a more fair and just social system. I also hope our opinion leaders will play an active role in stimulating people’s reflection of the ideas behind the campaign and attract more people to join us.
All participants shall sign the letter of intent in a bid to declare to themselves, their fellow participants, our next generations, the Hong Kong society and the Beijing government their determination to strive for universal suffrage. Even though our letter of intent is not legally binding, we are held accountable to ourselves and others so everyone shall sign it only after serious consideration. I believe this letter of intent will help unite everyone’s resolution for universal suffrage and generate a synergy of political energy that is beyond imagination.
Some people worry that the disclosure of personal identities will help the government identify, suppress, and divide its opposition. However, I remain confident in Hong Kong’s rule of law and the chance is slim for the aforementioned situation to happen under the existing law. As long as personal information such as one’s identity card number is kept confidential, the leak of personal information can be avoided.
The letter of intent does not include any specific proposals for genuine universal suffrage. It merely states your agreement to 1) verify genuine universal suffrage proposals by international standards to; 2) select specific universal suffrage proposals based on democratic procedures of deliberation and civic authorization; 3) carry out the Occupy Central non-violent civil disobedience action to fight for Beijing’s acceptance of a genuine universal suffrage proposal. The letter of intent allows signers to state their level of participation.
My hope is that the majority of participants would have calmly and rationally calculated the price they will pay before making the decision to join the action. Nevertheless, if people want to join on the spot, we would not have either the right or the power to stop them. At least we will, if circumstance permits, explain the content and meaning of the letter of intent and ask them to take an oath on the spot.
This is to enhance the solemnity of the oath through a brief but serious ceremony which demonstrates the determination of the participants to the public. Ceremonies do have the effects of strengthening, deepening and transforming our minds, and will therefore help participants firmly uphold and abide by their own values.
OCLP is a social movement directly participated by citizens. Since participants are responsible for their own civil disobedience actions, they cannot be represented by any organizations. Everyone, regardless of the organization or political party he/she may belong to, only participates on an individual basis. As such, the movement is never tightly organized or led by any coalition. Instead, all OCLP activities are arranged and executed by individual participants on their own accord.
Although OCLP activities are directly participated and organized by individuals, any groups or organizations that share the values of OCLP are free to hold discussions with their members, take the initiative to promote the values of OCLP to communities and citizens whom they are in touch with, encourage and assist their members in participating in the work of OCLP.
On top of the three initiators who take up the role of organizer of the movement, OCLP also needs the help of volunteers who are familiar with the way civil society operates. They may come from various civil bodies but they all participate on a personal basis, though their work involves the organization and coordination of OCLP activities with the bodies they belong to. In addition, a large number of volunteers are needed to work on specific tasks such as producing publicity materials and websites, drafting the manifesto, holding oath-taking ceremonies and deliberation days, devising civic authorization procedures and the specifics of Occupy Central.
Some people think that as a means of resistance, OCLP should make it difficult for its opponent to predict its next steps in order for the movement to be effective. Disclosing the whole plan will only let its opponent deal with it easily.
There are both negative and positive reasons behind the adoption of this “sunshine policy”. On the negative side, the Hong Kong society is suffering from a serious lack of mutual trust, which happens even among OCLP followers. Any under-the-table plans would almost certainly be leaked out, in which case different parties will blame one another for the leakage and the movement may be broken up even before launching. The movement simply cannot afford to hide anything. Besides, being a social movement participated by the public, OCLP should get all participants involved in its important decisions. This is also why the plan cannot be kept confidential.
On the positive side, it is easier to gather support from the society by announcing the movement in advance. Putting the plan under sunshine will also help gain social recognition. Although the disclosure of the plan will enable the opponent to get prepared for the strike back, we will be able to manage if there are enough participants who are determined to fight for genuine universal suffrage, as well as a good plan.
Based on very rough estimations, the entire OCLP movement requires at least 10 million dollars to operate. Since it is a publicly participated movement, it makes sense to allow everyone to contribute. Those who do not directly participate in OCLP activities can express their support by making donations to the movement. This not only shows the extent of support from the public but also avoids the accusation of manipulation by a “paymaster”. OCLP only accepts small donations of not more than 5,000-10,000 dollars and will announce the donation arrangements at a later stage. The management and the use of funds are to be done by professionals and will be made open to the public.
The chief executive electoral system needs to meet the international standards as laid out in General Comment No. 25 under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The General Comment provides a detailed explanation of “universal and equal suffrage”, which include: (1) Every voter should possess an equal number of votes; (2) Each of the votes should be equally weighted; (3) There are no unreasonable restrictions to the right to run for election.
Article 39 of the Basic Law provides that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force. Also, Article 25 of ICCPR stipulates that elections should be “universal and equal” in order to guarantee the free expression of the will of the electors. Therefore the above international standards are actually part of the Basic Law and can be used to interpret the ambiguous provisions in Article 45 in relation to “broadly representative nominating committee” and “democratic procedures”. This will enable us to define the constitutional requirements of chief executive elections under the Basic Law and design concrete electoral proposals.
OCLP will work out the details of the proposal through deliberation and civic authorization, and also in accordance to international standards. (Please refer to questions regarding deliberation and civic authorization.)
This is a misunderstanding. OCLP is just asking for a chief executive universal suffrage that is fair and conforms to international standards. It does not matter which political party will win the election. As long as the election conforms to international standards and is without unreasonable restrictions, which particular candidate will be chosen is completely the choice of the voters in Hong Kong.
OCLP strives for a chief executive universal suffrage method that meets international standards. However, there could be more than one method meeting international standards and therefore a mechanism is needed to select one of them. Since OCLP strives for democracy, naturally our decision mechanism should also be democratic. The decision should be collectively made by all OCLP participants instead of certain individuals or organizations. In order to make the decision process more democratic, participants should fully understand the viewpoints on individual proposals and carefully listen to others’ opinions before making a decision. This is what deliberation is about.
Three rounds of deliberation have been scheduled. The first deliberation will be participated by anyone who shares the values of OCLP. They can raise any potential issues in promoting OCLP and set priorities. By collectively setting the agenda, the participants will take ownership of the movement. A few hundred people are expected to attend in this round.
The second deliberation will be held in one to two months that follows, aiming to identify the solutions to the list of important questions raised during the first deliberation. A few thousand people are expected to attend in this round.
The experience gained in the first two deliberation sessions should prepare ourselves for the third, and also the largest, deliberation where concrete proposals are to be determined. Participants, after discussing the pros and cons of the selected proposals, all of which conform to international standards, will make a choice based on a fair process. There may be more than ten thousand people participating the third deliberation.
Participants of deliberation are just the minority in the society. A stronger civic authorization through the involvement of the public will serve to generate the necessary credibility to the proposal. All citizens will be able to vote for or against the proposal on electronic platforms.
To order to ensure the spirit of non-violence, we need to first identify the possible sources of violence. It could be coming from OCLP participants themselves, some of which may belong to organizations that do not share all OCLP values. Their infiltration is meant to destroy the purity of the movement though the use of violence. It could also be coming from other pro-democracy groups that have reservations about the idea of non-violence and may deem the use of violence necessary on the spot.
In response to this kind of violence from inside, our strategy is to distance ourselves. OCLP will reiterate the non-violent nature of the movement to the public before taking the actual occupation action. Anyone, whether a OCLP participant or not, will be disassociated from the movement once violence is used. This is in fact part of the provisions in the OCLP letter of intent. Whether the public understand or accept it or not, at least we have made a clear statement.
Participants may also be provoked to the use of violence by other people on the spot. To avoid this from happening, we will be holding workshops to teach the participants how to keep calm, stick to non-violence, and protect themselves. Another way is to hold each participant responsible for other participants’ action by trying to help people calm down whenever needed.
Violence can also be coming externally. OCLP participants can take appropriate actions to protect themselves from violence applied to them by external groups but should never try to hurt anyone in return.