Benny Tai: The rationale of Occupy Central is the pursuit of justice

Original published in Apple Daily on 26 August 2014: Read original
Translation on 28 August 2014

The real problem is not the alarm bell, but rather the fire.  It is still burning out there even without any alarm.  The loud alarm goes on just because of the fire, which is the root cause of the problem.  Those who ring the alarm bells, which are very loud indeed, are not trying to create disturbances but are actually trying to warn the occupants instead of fleeing himself.  What is really ridiculous is that the determination, courage and decisiveness are not used to put off the fire but rather used against the one who notices the fire and rings the alarm bells.  I could not help but ask: “What the heck is the rationale behind?”

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China Insists That Hong Kong Should Only Have Pro-Beijing Candidates — for National Security

Oiwan Lam | 25 August 2014 | Global Voices Online

As pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong continue to push for a greater say in the election of the city’s leader, top officials in mainland China closed discussion on the matter, claiming any restrictions placed on the vote are done so for national security.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, is set to have its first direct vote of the city’s chief executive in 2017, but Beijing says a nominating committee must approve the candidates. Democracy advocates fear Hong Kong will only have pro-Beijing candidates to choose from, defeating the purpose of the election. 

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‘Waves of struggle’ will lead up to Occupy Central sit-in

Samuel Chan | 25 August 2014 | SCMP

The Occupy Central movement will plan “wave after wave of struggle” culminating in its blockade of the city centre if Hongkongers are denied a genuine choice of candidates in 2017.

Speaking at a hike for democracy that drew about 300 participants yesterday, Occupy founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said core groups of the campaign as well as major student activist groups would meet to discuss their strategies next Sunday, immediately after Beijing announces its framework for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

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Threshold set for Occupy Central

25 August 2014 | RTHK

Occupy Central organiser Benny Tai says his movement won’t carry out their full disobedience campaign if Beijing only rules out public nomination for the 2017 chief executive election.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is expected to make a decision next Sunday. Occupy Central has said it will peacefully block Hong Kong’s business district if Beijing doesn’t offer democracy which meets international standards.

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Pro-government protesters hit back with huge Hong Kong rally

Wilfred Chan | 18 August 2014 | CNN

Tens of thousands of people marched through Hong Kong yesterday in support of China and to protest Occupy Central, a pro-democracy movement that says it will plan to stage a civil disobedience sit-in unless the Chinese government allows the Hong Kong public to nominate and vote for its next leader.

Robert Chow, the organizer of Sunday’s march, said it represented Hong Kong’s desire to work “peacefully” with the Chinese government in Beijing on political reform.

“We want universal suffrage, but not at any cost,” he told CNN Monday.

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The more you protest, the less Beijing will bend, democracy activists told

Tony Cheung in Beijing, Peter So and Gary Cheung | 16 August 2014 | SCMP

The more Hong Kong activists talk about using civil disobedience to press Beijing to heed demands for greater democracy, the more it will stand firm on electoral reform, the city’s sole representative on the country’s top legislative body warned yesterday.

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai offered the warning as the body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, began a week of deliberations to define the framework by which Hong Kong will elect its next leader in 2017.

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Benny Tai: “Pocket it first” may turn out to be “sit on it” or “that’s all”

Benny Tai’s statement on the anti-Occupy Central campaign’s incoherent messaging on universal suffrage and the Hong Kong’s government’s “pocket it first” ploy
Original published in Ming Pao on 9 August 2014: Read original 

The Anti-Occupy Central campaign, which has been gaining momentum, is directed against the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” movement.  While the campaign claims to support universal suffrage, it has never specified what “universal suffrage” means.  On the face of it, the Anti-Occupy Central campaign aims to stop occupy Central from happening.  To OCLP, however, occupying Central is just a means to a 2017 Chief Executive electoral method that meets international standards and provides voters with a real choice.  In this light, the real purpose of the Anti-Occupy Central campaign is to stop OCLP from achieving universal suffrage through occupying Central. Continue reading

Benny Tai: Letter to Hong Kong Chief Secretary

Original published in HKEJ on 31 July 2014: Read original
Translation on 2 August 2014

Dear Ms. Carrie Lam,

Due to the time limit of our previous meeting at the Central Government Offices, some of my points were not sufficiently clarified. Therefore I would like to further explain to you the standpoint of Occupy Central with Love and Peace in this open letter. As OCLP is an important folk force behind the constitutional reform development, which is closely associated with the welfare of all Hong Kong people, I would also like to take this opportunity to explain to the public the crisis we are facing with regard to the constitutional reform. Continue reading

Albert Einstein Institution: The Struggle for Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong

9 July 2014 | Albert Einstein Institution

Civic groups and citizens of Hong Kong struggling for universal suffrage have begun to heighten their campaign.

On July 3, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers staged a mass walkout from a parliament session against the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, accusing him of “willful ignorance of the people’s call for real democracy”. Many lawmakers held banners and demanded Leung’s resignation.

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Hong Kong’s Most Dangerous Man Wants People to Vote

Bruce Einhorn | 20 June 2014 | Business Week

Benny Tai, a soft-spoken law professor at the University of Hong Kong, is the man behind Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a pro-democracy movement that is threatening to stage civil disobedience in the streets of Hong Kong’s financial district. That, as fellow activist Edward Chin joked as he introduced Tai at a media briefing yesterday, makes the professor “the most dangerous man in town.”

As it organizes an election of its own in Hong Kong that begins today, Tai’s pro-democracy campaign is entering its most dangerous stage yet. “The movement now has reached a critical point,” Tai told reporters. Critics have denounced Tai and his fellow activists, saying Occupy Central will lead to chaos in the center of Hong Kong. The group has also had to contend with cyber sabotage, following a hacking incident that targeted Occupy Central’s website. The campaign, Tai said, “has been under a wave of attack.”

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The Pulse: Occupy Central Narrows the Field; District Councils “Promote” Constitutional Reform

21 May 2014 | RTHK

1. Benny Tai and Michael Davis discuss results of the Constitutional Reform Deliberation Day.

2. In societies that get to fully elect their government there’s always a bit of a conundrum when the government spends public money to convince the public of a viewpoint it might not share. It gets even more confusing when this activity occurs in the process of a consultation supposedly to assess public views. Hong Kong’s government allocated a total of HKS4.5 million in public money to district councils to promote the idea that proposals for electoral reform should follow the Basic Law, but do the public’s representatives have a right to help determine how that money was spent?

Democracy alliance chief urges unity to beat chief executive candidate screening

Tanna Chong | 11 May 2014 | SCMP

“Our core struggle is to fight off political screening in the 2017 chief executive election. Only unity can mobilise Hongkongers’ support, enabling us to exert pressure on Beijing and the government,”

Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, the alliance’s convenor, said only unity could give the camp sufficient strength to bargain with Beijing.

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Battle for the soul of Occupy after vote on reform plans

Tony Cheung, Tanna Chong | 10 May 2014 | SCMP

Locking down a city’s business heart might seem like a radical action but a political middle path has been on the mind of Benny Tai Yiu-ting since he initiated the Occupy Central idea.

In a column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on January 16 last year, the University of Hong Kong legal scholar and Occupy Central co-founder Tai wrote that those who joined the pro-democracy civil-disobedience movement “should include social opinion leaders, especially those who have never broken the law, or non-radical political leaders, former officials … and academics”.

Their participation would create a “powerful” call to society, Tai wrote. Sixteen months later the movement has endorsed three political reform proposals that all include the right for the public to nominate chief executive candidates in 2017. That result has drawn accusations that Occupy has been led away from Tai’s planned middle path by more extreme elements.

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Radicals urge public nomination choice on ‘deliberation day’ referendum

Tanna Chong, Tony Cheung | 6 May 2014 | SCMP

Three proposals that push for public nomination of chief executive hopefuls in 2017, an idea already dismissed by Beijing, triumphed in Occupy Central’s third and final “deliberation day” yesterday in a vote on models for a citywide “referendum” on political reform.

Eight relatively moderate proposals, including suggestions by Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-Wah and former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang’s Hong Kong 2020 think tank, failed to make the cut.

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Scholars find 15 plans for 2017 poll that meet international standards

Jeffie Lam | 1 May 2014 | SCMP

A group of international scholars has chosen 15 electoral reform plans they say meet international standards for universal suffrage.

The academics, experts in politics and constitutional law, were brought in by the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement to help filter different models for the 2017 chief executive election ahead of its third “deliberation day” on Tuesday. Up to 3,000 supporters will join the deliberation day and select three models to be put to a “civil referendum”, an electronic poll open to all registered voters from June 20 to 22. Occupy will endorse the winner.

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Academic Roundtable: Universal Suffrage and Nomination Procedures: Imperatives from Article 25 ICCPR

20 March 2014 | Center for Comparative and Public Law, Faulty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

The Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong hosted an academic roundtable on “Universal Suffrage and Nomination Procedures: Imperatives from Article 25 ICCPR” in light of the impending electoral reforms in Hong Kong on 20 March, 2014. The Roundtable garnered the reflections of international experts on the requirements of equal and universal suffrage as expressed in Article 25. These insights will be used as a basis to evaluate the various proposed models for electing the Chief Executive and members of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. 

Event details, including written submissions by participants

Watch video on SocREC archive