Leadership — Students hijacked Occupy Central leaders?

Archbishop Zen scolded the HK Federation of Students for hijacking the Occupy Central leadership. At the same time, radicals who had never supported OC applauded students for “pushing out” the “old guys.”

It is wrong to say who hijacked whom in HK’s 3-decades-old democracy movement. It has grown and sustained over time because every crisis nurtured a new leadership. Every time, traditional leaders graciously stepped aside and stood behind the new leaders.

The Sino-British negotiations gave birth to the first summit meeting of all pro-democracy forces (高山大會)in 1986. Tiananmen further coalesced them into the United Democrats of HK. The anti-Art 23 campaign of 2003 gave rise to lawyers and the Civic Party. The patriotic education policy led to the formation of Scholarism in 2012. The universal franchise campaign pushed OC to the forefront in 2013. At every juncture, older generations stepped aside and let new leaders lead.

Students organized a week-long class boycott in the week of Sep. 22. Occupy Central announced that they were going to start occupying on Oct. 1. The arrests of student leaders on Friday, Sep. 26 drew so many people to Admiralty that OC had to announce its early beginning.

Hijacking? What we have seen is a joint leadership of Scholarism (high school students), the Federation of Students (college students) and Occupy Central (2 professors and 1 pastor) in this chapter of HK’s democracy movement.

Different episodes of Hong Kong’s democracy movement have always been tightly interlinked, with every leadership pushing the movement a bit further and then passing on the torch to a new leadership in a new episode.The fluidity of leadership has created a cross-class, inter-generational leadership structure over the years. This is why HK’s democracy movement has sustained and expanded.

Original Hong Kong Occupy plan veered off script:

today, the Occupy Central protests that Tai launched with conviction on September 28 have deviated markedly from his script – in ways that he and his two co-founders had not imagined in their wildest dreams… But the shift in leadership left the campaign less organised than planned. In its early days, a rift emerged between Occupy organisers and the student leaders and concerns were arising that the protests could spin out of control. (http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1654286/original-hong-kong-occupy-plan-veered-script)

An intergenerational leadership of Scholarism, Federation of Students and Occupy Central


Who guides Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ pro-democracy movement? Hong Kong’s protesters come from a huge swath of society and have no single leader, but there is a group of figureheads http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/30/hong-kong-pro-democracy-protest-leaders-occupy

Wong, Tai on list of leading global thinkers http://www.ejinsight.com/20141118-wong-tai-on-list-of-leading-global-thinkers/


KUHN: Victoria Hui is a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame. She says that in recent years, every chapter in Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy has been led by a different group. This time she says it’s the students’ time to lead.

VICTORIA HUI: The leadership role is also very fluid. It’s taken over by different groups of people over time. In fact, this explains why Hong Kong’s democracy movement has sustained over time.


Hong Kong Protests Are Leaderless but Orderly http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/world/asia/in-hong-kong-clean-and-polite-but-a-protest-nonetheless.html

The revolution will be civilized http://magazine.good.is/features/hongkong_rank_2014

The Main Hong Kong Protest Site Is a Perfect Anarchist Collective: http://time.com/3523217/occupy-central-hong-kong-harcourt-road-admiralty-democracy-anarchism-anarchist-collective-china-protest/

Street democracy salons:  小麗民主教室:讓街坊偶遇民主 http://littlepost.hk/2014/12/23/小麗民主教室/,  http://www.facebook.com/pages/小麗民主教室

Nevertheless, it is necessary to strengthen leadership by connecting more tightly to ordinary protestors.

Update on Oct. 12:

A representative from the Federation of Students went to a public discussion in Mongkok on Sun., Oct. 12. Some ordinary protestors held up signs “No Organizers, Only The People.” (This is because the organizers based in Admiralty issued a decision to retreat when thugs attacked protestors in Mongkok on Oct. 3. People not only did not retreat, but flooded to the site to protect it.) The moderator of the street forum held up yet another sign: “Whether you are from the right or the left, show democratic tolerance.” Occupy Causeway Bay has become another site of open and vibrant public debates.

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Update on Oct. 21:

HKFS negotiation representatives reported to protestors at all occupy sites after the talk with government representatives.


Update on Oct. 24:

Student, Occupy leaders announce vote on government’s reform proposals
Democratic exercise will ask whether students’ federation should accept the government’s offers http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1623283/occupys-benny-tai-announces-vote-hkfs-proposals-reform

Update on Oct. 26:

The joint leadership announced a civic vote to be held today. After more thorough consultation with protestors in Causeway Bay and Mongkok, they concluded that the vote would be a mistake. They announced the revised decision and bowed to apologize to protestors. If leadership means knowing how to follow and apologize…




On Oct. 28:

Student leader urges pan-democrats to take initiative over talks http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1626254/student-leader-urges-pan-democrats-take-initiative-over-talks?utm_source=edm&utm_medium=edm&utm_content=20141028&utm_campaign=scmp_today

On Oct. 28, HK Federation of Students thanks the OC leaders for initiating the idea of a nonviolent occupy movement and for holding extensive consultations since early 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc8MRt1Dscg&feature=youtu.be

Oct. 31: “Prominent Hong Kong activist says protesters need to unify, strategize

The diffuse nature of the protest leadership may have helped perpetuate the demonstrations – but also has limited protesters’ ability to forcefully unite and agree on a strategy to bring more pressure to bear on government authorities.

Leung’s remarks came as two founders of Occupy Central, university professors Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, announced they have resumed their university teaching duties after a month spent mainly at the protest zone in the Admiralty district, near government headquarters.

On Nov. 8

A group of protestors tried to block the bridge connecting Admiralty with government offices, triggering another debate between “radical” ordinary protestors and student leaders. Many urged more efforts at building consensus. Joshua Wong asked protestors to mobilize more support for their actions. Student leaders also bowed to apologize for their inadequate communications.

On Nov.10

Ordinary protestors sign up to speak at the stage for 5 min. https://www.facebook.com/socrec/photos/a.593110604049208.152616.160696287290644/1014581265235471/?type=1&theater

Alex Chow says that they have deepened democratic practice within the movement by sharing the stage, arranging small group discussions and civic forums, connecting different occupy sites, etc. https://www.facebook.com/socrec/photos/a.593110604049208.152616.160696287290644/1014622455231352/?type=1&theater

Jan. 2, 2015: Benny Tai, “Organizing a democratic movement in the ‘Umbrella Era’” http://www.ejinsight.com/20150105-democratic-movement-umbrella-era/

Martin Lee: We are happy to stand behind young students. We should form a leadership linking up the old, the middle-aged, and the young.

By 壹錘定音‧李慧玲 Hammer Out

馬丁給香港人的話 (十三) 學生每一步都行得正確,應把將來交給他們,老、中、青一起捍衛一國兩制!

馬丁給香港人的話 (十) 老一輩要從「六四情意結」的框框走出來

馬丁給香港人的話 (九)

Alan Leong on why he stands by the students: 梁家傑:唔企喺年青人嗰邊睇香港所發生嘅事,香港就注定沉淪! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhfjavkjD_Q&feature=youtu.be

Apple Daily Owner Full of Wonder at Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy ‘Kids’


Jimmy Lai: How young democrats are showing guts and reason




Filed under Umbrella Movement

11 responses to “Leadership — Students hijacked Occupy Central leaders?

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