Last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests should have ended sooner, a key figure in the movement admitted on Thursday.

Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting told RTHK that civil disobedience actions require public support, and that if he had ended Occupy sooner it would not have drained so much energy from Hong Kong civil society.

benny tai
File Photo: Benny Tai Yiu-ting. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tai, also an associate professor of law and the University of Hong Kong, told the broadcaster that it will take time for society to recover from the drain and he regrets not drawing the movement to an end sooner.

However, he does not regret fighting for genuine universal suffrage through the civil disobedience movement.

Tai also said that the protest achieved more than he had expected in terms of civil awakening, although it did not succeed in reforming the political system.

Tai, comparing Hong Kong’s prospects for political reform and the legal implications he might face to “walking into a dark tunnel,” said he will not stand in the front line of pro-democracy protests again.

Instead, he would prefer to serve as a point of connection between different parties as they seek a new path to political reform.

Military involvement.

Fellow Occupy Central co-founder Dr Chan Kin-man told RTHK of differences he had with students protest leaders during the group’s months-long occupation of Admiralty.

Chan Kin-man
File Photo: Chan Kin-man. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Chan, an associate professor of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he did not agree with attempts to surround the Central Government Complex and impede regular operations, thereby increasing pressure on the government.

Should these actions result in a toppling of the government, Chan said it would have provided an excuse for the People’s Liberation Army to become involved.

Whilst Chan said that he understood students would not leave until they achieved genuine universal suffrage, he asked young people to reflect on when it is best to fight and when it is best to communicate with the government.

Although Chan made frequent trips to the mainland over the past 20 years to conduct academic research, he has acted the advise of mainland friends and has not crossed the border since the Occupy movement was launched.

The pro-democracy Occupy protests began on September 28 last year. The last major occupy site in Causeway Bay was cleared by police on December 15.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.