Q&A: Hong Kong protester

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan talks to Arthur Lo about their movement for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

Policemen in Hong Kong
Protest organisers vow to carry out more protests to demand for universal suffrage in Hong Kong [Reuters]

At Sunday’s march in Hong Kong, Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan caught up with a student protester who was active in the Occupy Hong Kong movement last year.

Arthur Lo, a university student, gave us an insight into the minds of those behind the Umbrella Movement.

Al Jazeera: Organisers and police made provisions for 50,000 demonstrators. Why do you think turnout was just about a quarter of that?

Arthur Lo: I think it was not promoted enough. There was not much media coverage beforehand, and there was not much hype to attract people. 

Though it still is impressive when we consider that a social organisation planned these protests. But I think everyone is waiting for the students to initiate another plan of action, as they have the power to call on most of the people who participated in the occupy movement.

AJ: The organiser of the march told me that after the occupy movement, traditional forms or protest aren’t so effective, what do you think?

Arthur Lo: I think this sort of march was the way to protest before the occupy movement, so returning to that isn’t going to yield any sort of change or make a huge difference. They need to be more creative. But it just shows that it’s the students, who were the face of the mass protests last year that can galvanise others. They can create some sort of new method of resistance or civil disobedience that could get the public more involved.

AJ: Given that there’s no reaction from Beijing and Hong Kong’s government isn’t engaging with the protesters, how hopeful are you that the public will be able to freely choose their next leader for the 2017 elections?

Arthur Lo: The government has said that there is no time to look at political reform for the next elections. So the 2017 vote will mirror the previous one in 2012, where Beijing will vet the nominees for chief executive and a select group of businessmen and so-called public representatives will decide the outcome.

What we can hope for is that, the option of electoral reform remains open after 2017, so the new leaders can work with the public to change how chief executives are chosen in the future. Hopefully as a fully democratic ballot with candidates that don’t need to be approved by Beijing.

Source: Al Jazeera