Will they or won’t they? That is the question. The court has spoken. Occupy Central protesters are abusing the rule of law by ignoring injunctions to remove barricades in Admiralty and Mong Kok. Monday’s ruling contradicts legislators and law professors who say laws can be broken in the name of civil disobedience. Contrary to their stance, the judge declared that the rule of law was being seriously challenged. So will protesters resist when court bailiffs remove the barricades? Public Eye does not have an answer because Occupy is leaderless. Will the police make mass arrests if protesters resist? We do not know that, either. But does anyone remember the original script of Occupy? Protesters were supposed to lie down and let the police arrest them without resisting. Will they return to the original script now that the court has authorised bailiffs, with police help if necessary, to take away the barricades? We will know when the court bailiffs move in. If the protesters resist, can we still justifiably call Occupy a peaceful civil disobedience movement?
Only one thing to be gained from a visit to Beijing
To go or not to go? That is not the question. Student leaders have said they will definitely go to Beijing one way or another. Today is apparently the deadline they have set for Hong Kong members of the National People’s Congress to arrange a meeting with central government leaders. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, now a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has spurned their request to set up such talks. We all know there is no way state leaders will meet a delegation of Hong Kong students whose main demand is that the NPC retract its electoral reform framework. Meeting them would be an admission Beijing had bowed to mass civil disobedience. So the question is: when will the students fly to Beijing and what do they hope to gain from the trip? Public Eye sees three possible outcomes for this mission impossible. The first is that airline staff will prevent the students from boarding. That can happen if the central government nullifies their re-entry permits. Airline staff can legitimately prevent passengers from boarding if they lack documents for entry to their destinations. The trouble with this is the central government would not know which permits to cancel if the students kept the names of those going to Beijing secret until they boarded. Another option is to deny them entry on arrival as a security risk. Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai Chee-ying said it would be good if they were arrested because that would provoke another 500,000 to join the Occupy protests. But Public Eye believes the central government has enough sense to know it would be stupid to arrest the students. The third possible outcome is to let the students enter and then ignore them unless they stir up trouble by handing out leaflets or unfurling yellow umbrellas in Tiananmen Square. What can the students gain? Just one thing: publicity. China will be portrayed in the local and international media as a totalitarian state that fears letting its own citizens who dare speak their minds enter the country. So what else is new? We expect the coverage to last a day before becoming yesterday’s news.