Chow Yong-kang Admitted the Disconnection Between Student Leaders and the Public During Umbrella Movement

“The connection between student leaders and the public was broken, and the public didn’t think the student leaders could represent their standpoints by the end of the revolution.” Said Chow Yong-kang, the former secretary general of Hong Kong Federation of Students, on Umbrella Revolution: in Prospect and Retrospect forum on September 24, 2015.

It has been one year since tens of thousands of Hong Kongers flocked onto the street to demonstrate their right of free election. In memory of the movement, The Hong Kong University Students’ Union held a forum in Sun Yat-sen Place in The University of Hong Kong to discuss the lesson drawn from the movement and its inspiration for the future.

On the forum, Chow admitted that the connection between student federation and the public has become weaker and weaker since the beginning of the movement. He believed the way out is to learn from the student movement in Quebec: let the general meeting of student federation make decisions for the movement. Thus the public could “put aside differences and seek common ground when divergence occurs”.

However, Cheng Chung-tai, a major member of the Hong Kong nativist political organization Civic Passion, argued that the Umbrella Movement is not merely a student movement, but an “anti-communists, anti-colonization” movement for all Hong Kong people.

“Hong Kong is more centralized now than before the Umbrella Movement.” Cheng said. He thought Hong Kong people are facing violence from the police, injustice from the court and many other threats. He also criticized the student federation for weakening the power of the movement.

Lewis Loud, a famous internet critic in Hong Kong, marked that, “the conservative (social movement) network stopped the movement from moving forward.” He believed the public should break up the old system and rebuild a new one.

Chan Cho-wai, professor of Department of Politics and Public Administration in The University of Hong Kong, pointed out that Umbrella Movement aimed to overturn “831 Resolution” rather than the political system. To learn from the past does not need to disassemble student federation.

Professor Chan indicated that a movement needs good organization to pass on the lessons learned, or else the movement will be much easier to be controlled by others.

The forum lasted for two hours, but Mr. Shi, a student from The University of Hong Kong, thought it did not serve the function of a forum.

“I want to know how you are going to help us achieve democracy”, said Shi. “What indeed is your creed? What can you achieve? These are the questions to answer, and only words are not enough.”

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