Hong Kong authorities and student leaders are set to hold talks on Tuesday, after protesters equalised the equation by re-occupying a protest icon that had been cleared earlier on Friday by the police.
Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced that Tuesday’s talks will be held for two hours, moderated by a university professor, and broadcast live on television. Five student representatives will participate in the dialogue.
“The government’s work on political reform has to be based on the Basic Law and the national legislature’s decision. I’m happy to listen to other opinions based on this foundation,” Ms. Lam said.
The iron-clad position taken by the official means that the government will not show any flexibility on the decision taken in Beijing that the 2017 elections for the post of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive would be governed by the principle of universal suffrage where voters will be free to exercise their choice among candidates vetted by a nominating committee. This would be the first time that Hong Kong voters would be allowed to poll, but protesters are demanding unqualified democracy, minus the screening by the nomination committee ahead of the vote.
The students have received a psychological boost after they managed to re-occupy the locality of Mong Kok, after crowds of around 9000 supporters braved pepper spray used by an outnumbered police overnight. Twenty six people were arrested, 15 police officers were injured, while an estimated 50 people were hurt among the protesters.
The reoccupation of Mong Kok has sharpened the polarisation between the police and the agitators. Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung has condemned the occupation of Mong Kok areas and accused protesters of charging at police cordons during Friday night’s clashes.
“Police strongly condemn those who participated in the unlawful assembly, charged police cordons and illegally occupied major thoroughfares in Mong Kok earlier this morning and last night. Such behaviours are neither peaceful nor non-violent,” said Mr. Tsang.