Activists must make it clear from start

Four civil disobedience scenarios that may be enacted by the Occupy Central movement in July have already been discussed.

Two of them will disrupt the day-to-day routines of those who work in Central and are unlikely to be considered owing to the resentment they will cause, damaging the push for universal suffrage.

On the other hand, a Central that comes to a standstill will cause maximum inconvenience to big business and have a severe impact upon the government.

Although members of the public will be inconvenienced to some degree, they will accept this because they will see the action striking a blow against the government and big business on their behalf.

So assuming our Occupy Central organizers go ahead with their plan, what do they have to consider when putting it into action?

To begin with, the number of participants, estimated at around 10,000 or more, will have to be brought into the designated area in a coordinated manner, either at the same time or in staggered groups.

They will have to be on site before «zero hour» – the time set for action – otherwise they will have to mingle with everyday office crowds, during the morning or evening, and this will give away the timing of the demonstration to those who are observing them. But a large group congregating at several locations will also give the game away.

Stealth must therefore be considered when moving into position.

Once in place, groups will have to know what to do. Should they stand, sit, lie or position themselves in any specific manner to make it difficult for them to be removed? For they will be removed once their demonstration begins.

How should participants resist? Occupy Central has pledged that its action will not be violent, so it is essential that participants are well briefed, with supervisors ensuring that all follow the same code of conduct.

Consideration should also be given to allowing people to join en route or on site.

Who will supervise their conduct? There may be elements joining with the intent of causing trouble because not everyone may adhere to the principles of nonviolence.

Experience tells us there are those who will go to any lengths to promote their own brand of «people power.»

The organizers will also have to consider security measures to maintain the integrity of the movement.

The need to ensure that participants, especially the very young or elderly, will be looked after has been previously mentioned.

Since senior citizens may be taking part, organizers must give thought to keeping some access roads clear for emergency vehicles.

JS Lam served with Hong Kong police – `Asia’s Finest’ – for 32 years, reaching the rank of senior superintendent before retiring in 1996.


Activists must make it clear from start – The Standard.

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