Thursday, 9 October 2014

Hong Kong leaders scrap talks with protesters

Formal talks between the Hong Kong government and student leaders set for Friday were called off, raising the specter of more demonstrations in a city already weary from 12 days of protests.
Carrie Lam, chief secretary of Hong Kong, said the government called off the talks because students continued to demand free elections and refused to leave occupied parts of the city.
“This is sacrificing public good for their political demands, and is against public interests and political ethics,” Lam said at a news conference Thursday night.

Hours earlier, pro-democracy lawmakers opened a new front in the city’s tense standoff by threatening to block action in the city’s legislature.
“Hong Kong has entered an era of disobedience and noncooperation,” Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator, said at a news conference alongside protest leaders.
Leong said he and other lawmakers in favor of freer elections would block legislation that required funding if the government did not give in.

Student leaders also vowed at the news conference to expand the demonstrations across the city and call for a third boycott of secondary schools if the talks did not yield results.
“Only through cooperation and coordination we believe democracy can be planted in Hong Kong and therefore generate sufficient pressure to the government,” said Alex Chow, a leader of one of the three sit-in organizers, the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
Protesters are still calling for the resignation of the territory’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying.

Lawmakers filed an official complaint with the city’s corruption agency Thursday, asking it to investigate Leung after an Australian newspaper reported that the chief executive received millions of dollars in secret fees from an engineering firm in exchange for helping expand its business in Asia.

Hong Kong students, officials set Friday for start of reform talks

DemonstrationRiotsChinaHong Kong Protests (2014)
Hong Kong students and officials set Friday as start date for formal talks to resolve protests of elections
41 lawmakers sign letter citing safety concerns over meeting to debate government's handling of mass sit-in
Unclear if any progress made in talks between student leaders, government officials to end Hong Kong sit-ins
Student leaders and Hong Kong government officials said they will begin formal talks Friday aimed at ending mass demonstrations that have shut down key parts of this semiautonomous Chinese city for more than a week.
The meeting will be open to the media but will be closed to the public, Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Lau Kong-wah said during a news conference late Tuesday.

Student leaders welcomed the meeting but said in a later news conference that they were skeptical the government would address their chief demand for more democratic elections to choose the territory’s next leader.
Earlier in the day, the president of Hong Kong’s legislative body postponed a council meeting for at least a week because of concerns that protesters would block access to the government complex and incite a confrontation.
“We have seen in the last week, I think, very clearly that sometimes the situation can get out of hand,” Jasper Tsang, head of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, better known as Legco, said during a news conference Tuesday.

The decision comes as thousands of demonstrators remain camped in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong, the main protest venue, which includes government buildings. They opened a path for civil servants to return to work Monday as part of an agreement leading to talks between student leaders and officials to resolve the standoff.
A debate over the government’s handling of the mass sit-in was scheduled for the council meeting Wednesday. The decision to postpone the session was made after 41 lawmakers signed a letter expressing concern for their safety.

The demonstrations in Admiralty have been largely peaceful since riot police fired tear gas Sept. 28 in a failed attempt to clear the area of occupiers.
The same can’t be said for the second-largest protest venue, Mong Kok, which has been the site of heated confrontations between pro-democracy supporters and their opponents.
At a news conference Tuesday, Hong Kong police spokesman Steve Hui said Mong Kok remained a “high-risk area” and that officers would not hesitate to use appropriate force when needed.

“If there is any violence at the scene, the police will take actions resolutely,” Hui said, according to the South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, has reportedly been holed up at his residence, a former British governor’s mansion. He has been communicating with the public strictly with recorded video messages.
Demonstrators are demanding freer elections to choose Leung’s successor, scheduled for 2017.