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Hong Kong occupiers are losing the high groundMichael Chugani says the conduct of some Occupy protesters in Mong Kok is a good indication of why support for the movement is waningMichael Chugani29 November 2014Isn’t Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying supposed to be the loathed lapdog who deliberately misrepresented Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations to his Beijing bosses? So how come his popularity has suddenly climbed when political strife continues to tear Hong Kong apart? Even his administration’s popularity has rebounded. There’s a message there somewhere.Can it be that people are starting to like Leung? Or is it that they are getting sick of Hong Kong being held hostage in the name of democracy? Either way, it spells trouble for the umbrella movement. It’s losing the moral high ground it captured at the start. The movement’s message has since become so garbled it is on course to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.Polls by two universities show Leung’s approval rating rising, by 4.3 points and 4.1 points, to 44.7 and 42.7 respectively out of 100 points. A slew of other recent polls showed more than 70 per cent of people now want the occupation protest to end.Why are Hongkongers suddenly turning against a democracy movement that, just two months ago, captured the world’s imagination? The simple answer is that they’re starting to see things more clearly as they become less blinded by fury over the police tear-gassing of protesters. If we dare to be honest with ourselves, this was never a totally peaceful movement, although no one wanted to say so. Those who did were derided as anti-democrats.Forget about the movement’s radicals who rammed the Legislative Council’s doors; anyone who watched with honest eyes this week’s clearance of the Mong Kok occupy site would agree not all protesters peacefully complied with the court injunction. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, some provoked the police, others confrontationally quibbled over the exact boundaries of the court injunction, and radical protesters returned at night to clash with police.When police used pepper spray and batons to disperse the agitators, they were accused of violence against peaceful protesters. The movement is losing support because people are now seeing it for what it has evolved into - a leaderless and disorganised movement that has squandered its moral authority, hurt the livelihoods of ordinary people and made a mockery of our rule of law.Didn’t the original script call for peaceful occupation without resisting arrest? So why did the Mong Kok protesters don goggles and hard hats instead of respecting the court injunction by voluntarily leaving or letting the police arrest them without resisting? It is pointless now for recriminations as to who turned violent first - the students who scaled the security fence of government headquarters, which then drew thousands to the streets demanding their release, or the police, who fired tear gas at surging crowds.But it is disingenuous for the pan-democrats to say Leung has turned the police force into a political tool. The movement wants a political solution. Political solutions are only possible when there is give and take, not when one side insists its demands must be met. The movement is losing public support because it is losing the moral argument.
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