One year after Occupy: what has changed?

One year after Occupy: what has changed?

It's been a whole 12 months since thousands of people camped out in Central in a protest for democracy. What, if anything, has changed since then?

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Hard to believe this was one year ago. What has changed since then?
Photo: Reuters

Criminal Trials

Before

Before Occupy, many of the criminal trials in court were mostly non-politically-related cases of murder and theft etc.

After

After Occupy, there have been many convictions and trials of protesters and police in relation to the Occupy protests. There have been more than 25 charges in connection to Occupy and many of the trials are still ongoing.


Proposals for Electoral Reform

Before

In a June 2014 unofficial “referendum”, a proposed reform plan by the Alliance for True Democracy won. Proposals were also put forward by Scholarism and the Federation of Students, and People Power’s proposal. All three called for the public to be able to nominate candidates for the chief executive election. The total number of votes cast was 787,767, with 70,418 abstaining to vote for proposed electoral reforms. 9 per cent of Hong Kongers voted for an electoral reform plan.

After

But such demands for democracy did not gain enough bargaining power with the government. In June 2015, a government electoral reform plan was rejected by the Democratic party for not offering universal suffrage up to international standards. (At the same time, pro-establishment members, who were ready to vote for the plan, walked out of the vote.)


July 1 Establishment Day March

Before

July 1 protests before Occupy had always attracted masses of marchers. Last year’s march took place shortly after the unofficial “referendum” and after the Beijing white paper emphasised its total control over Hong Kong. Organisers said 510,000 turned up, while Police put the figure at 98,600 and a study commissioned by the Post estimated the turnout to be 140,000.

After

In July 1, the turnout for the democracy rally was the lowest since 2008. Observers and marchers blamed protest fatigue and the lack of an obvious goal after the rejection of the government’s electoral reform plan. Organisers of the pro-democracy march put the turnout at 48,000, while police said the marchers peaked at 19,650. HKU statistician Paul Yip Siu-fai estimated around 20,000 took part.


June 4 Tiananmen Vigil

Before

Before Occupy, June 4 vigils to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown were traditionally organised by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. The alliance, chaired by Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, wants to “build a democratic China”.

After

After Occupy, there was greater awareness of Hong Kong’s relationship with China. In 2015, Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU) held an alternative vigil from the traditional one held by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. HKUSU wanted to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown with a more local perspective on shaping Hong Kong’s politics, rather than adopting a nationalistic stance.


Liberal Studies

Before

Liberal studies, a compulsory school module initiated by first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was largely unquestioned as something that taught ‘Hong Kong values’ to schoolchildren. 

After

After Occupy, the liberal studies curriculum began to be questioned as something that threatened ‘Hong Kong values’. The pro-Beijing party argues the curriculum encourages students to take part in political conflicts and civil disobedience. In November 2014, a section exploring how students can participate in community affairs was excluded.


Faith in Police Force

Before

It is hard to measure how much faith people had in the police before Occupy.

After

But after Occupy, particularly due to the police's use of teargas, public faith was shaken.

  • Police were accused of doing nothing when a woman was allegedly groped in the protest in October last year.
  • In November 2014, seven policemen were arrested for beating Occupy protester Ken Tsang Kin-chiu.
  • Currently, the refusal of the police to rule an alleged assault by officer Franklin Chu King-wai for hitting protester Osman Cheung Chung-hang has also put the credibility of the police at risk.

A survey by the HKU public opinion programme revealed that dissatisfaction with the police rose from 19 per cent before Occupy to 29 per cent in June this year.

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