In full: The testimony of protest organiser Chan Kin-man at the trial of the Umbrella Movement 9
Nine activists and politicians involved in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement pleaded not guilty to public nuisance charges when their trial began on November 19 – they are currently awaiting the verdict.
The first defendant was one of the three convenors of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace campaign, Benny Tai – he elected neither to testify himself or call any witnesses. The second defendant was his colleague, Chan Kin-man, who testified on his own behalf. His testimony lasted a day and a half. In all, he spent about seven and a half hours on the witness stand.
How to read the court transcript below – click to view.
The defence attorney asked questions in English. A court interpreter then translated the questions into Cantonese, and Chan replied in Cantonese. Then the interpreter translated his responses into English. The interpreter’s translation is used below, except in the few cases where it was inaccurate or infelicitously phrased – for instance, when incorrect verb tenses were frequently used.
Q: Did you have any involvement in the decision of whether to introduce universal suffrage in 2012?
A:The government started consultations in 2010 on 2012. I participated in negotiations with Beijing because of my academic background. I was one of the representatives who went to the Liaison Office. In private, I constantly had discussions with government officials & representatives from Beijing on the topic of constitutional reform.
Q: Where on the spectrum of radical and moderate pan-democrats would you put yourself?
A: For a long time, I was seen as a representative of moderate pro-democracy people.
Judge: the question was how you see yourself, not how you were seen.
Q: So you’re a moderate democrat in plain terms?
A: I think at least that’s the entire society’s view prior to the Occupy Central movement. I have viewed myself as this all along.
Q: By the end of 2012, had you come to any awareness about the likelihood of any election model for CE in 2017?
A: By the end of 2012, I was very pessimistic that Beijing would give Hong Kong people real universal suffrage.
Q: How important to you was the concept of genuine universal suffrage for that election?
A: To me, genuine universal suffrage is not only one person one vote. In addition, candidates with different backgrounds must be allowed to take part in elections. Only then can it meet the basic principle of universal suffrage, which is equality. Hong Kong is to me a very mature society. The educational level of the general public is already very high. If the people are still not given a genuine choice, the people will be very angry. As to our government, if the government do not have support from the people, many deep-rooted problems cannot be solved. Therefore, I think a genuine democratic systems is the only way for the government to have support from the people in order to ensure that the quality is good and there is peace.
Q: Let’s leave 2012 and go to 2013. In early 2013, did you know the first defendant, Professor Tai?
A: I knew him. I was not very familiar with him.
Q: Did you know the third defendant, the Reverend Chu?
A: Yes. We had been friends for many years.
Q: In early 2013, were you aware of writings by Professor Tai about a social movement to be modeled on civil disobedience?
A: Actually, at the time, a reporter asked me, Tai wrote an article in Hong Kong Economic Journal about civil disobedience: Were scholars angry now? I replied, not angry but frustrated because we saw the Hong Kong political system was not working, and many problems about the government were arising. But it seemed scholars did not know what could be done.
Judge: But you were asked if you were aware of some writings.
Q: Did you generally agree with the content & direction of his writings on this issue?
A: I did not totally agree with the articles.
Q: What did you not agree with?
A: I think the spirit of civil disobedience is not merely about the occupation of a location. The most important thing about the spirit is the real self-sacrifice of the participants in order to move society to be concerned about injustice.
Q: You say you didn’t know Professor Tai particularly well, but you knew him as a liberal law scholar at Hong Kong University.
Q: What was the extent of your prior involvement with Professor Tai at this time?
A: In the past, I very frequently drafted some declarations for scholars to sign about political or social problems, and I sometimes invited him to sign them.
Q: On 10 March 2013 in a Ming Pao article, Tai announced you and Chu should be the people who should lead some variation of an occupy movement in Hong Kong.
A: I remember around February 2013, a newspaper reported that Tai named me & Chu.
Q: Had you been consulted by Tai before he pronounced you as a co-participant?
Q: When you learned he’d so named you, did you speak to him about that?
A: At the time, Chu called me. I wasn’t in Hong Kong. It was not until Ming Pao arranged a dialogue between me and Tai that I had a chance to discuss this with him in detail and we talked about the ideas of Occupy Central
Q: In that dialogue, what was your position about the elements of appropriate civil disobedience?
A: After the dialogue between me and Tai, I understood more that his idea was not only about occupation. He hoped that before any civil disobedience, there should be thorough deliberations. Civil disobedience is just the last resort of the plan.
Q: To you, what was the essence of appropriate civil disobedience?
A: The most important is to raise the public’s awareness about the injustice of the current situation. Therefore, a peaceful and nonviolent approach must be used in order to have the sympathy and understanding of the public so that they will become more concerned about the unjust situation. If some disruption is caused to society, it has to be proportionate. The core value is the spirit of self-sacrifice because people who participate in civil disobedience may ultimately face criminal liability.
Q: At that time, did you specifically contemplate that the spirit of self-sacrifice could result in a conviction?
A: I had contemplated that. I even thought about how the conviction might affect my job.
Q: On 4 March 2013, you published an article, “May love and peace occupy Central”.
Q: In that, did you express a position as to whether any civil disobedience should be calm and solemn?
A: Yes, I remember I wrote that if one day we have to occupy the roads in Central, we must be calm and solemn.
Q: Did that article have a position on whether the participants should avoid physical confrontation with others, including the police?
Q: How important to you is it that civil disobedience must be without violence toward anyone?
A: I think it is the highest principle of civil disobedience.
Q: Did the article have a position as to whether participants should give themselves up to police in that context?
A: Yes, they should.
Q: Did you give yourselves up to police in this present case?
Q: Did you surrender to police in December 2014?
Q: This article of 4 March 2013, where was it published?
A: In Ming Pao.
Q: Did that article also contain a position statement as to whether the participants should or should not defend themselves in court?
A: At the time, I advocated there was no need to contest the charges against oneself in court.
Q: Then why are you defending yourself by pleading not guilty in this trial?
A: Because I think these charges are unreasonable. In particular, some charges will have a very long-term effect for freedom of speech. If they charged us with reasonable charges, for example, “unlawful assembly”, I think I would not contest the charges.
Q: Did you together with Tai and Chu have a meeting to discuss the details of the proposed occupy movement after the article of 4 March 2013?
Q: There had been a movement in the US called Occupy Wall Street. Were you aware?
Q: Did that event have any relevance to what you, Tai & Chu were proposing in terms of civil disobedience?
A: I think we were not really affected by that incident.
Q: Is there a reason for the name chosen for what you planned in Hong Kong? [Note: The full name of their group was Occupy Central with Love and Peace.]
A: I remember it was named by me, “May love and peace occupy Central”. The starting point of the entire movement is our love for Hong Kong. And a very important principle of civil disobedience is to be peaceful. So it was felt the name should reflect the spirit of the movement, and the three of us completely agreed on this concept.
Q: The idea of occupation, was that a last resort or interim measure or first step?
A: Actually, the movement can be divided into four stages: First, deliberation; second, authorization through civil referendum; third, negotiations and dialogue with the government or Beijing; and fourth, only if the government refuses to offer genuine universal suffrage do we consider occupying Central.
Q: So it was very distinctly the last resort if all else had failed?
Q: So if it’s the last step, and a disruptive one, and only to be taken as a last resort, what were you three trying to achieve during the first three steps?
A: Actually, the most important was to make society focus on constitutional reform. We wanted people to understand the meaning of genuine universal suffrage and also to explain to society why peace and nonviolence are so important.
Q: What were the three of you in your discussions seeking to achieve by way of commitment to Hong Kong?
A: We want Hong Kong to be a democratic society.
Q: Did you and Professor Tai and Reverend Chu announce a manifesto?
Q: Was that manifesto called, “Let love and peace occupy Central”?
Q: Was the manifesto announced in the Union Church in Kowloon?
Q: What was the reason for choosing a church as the venue for announcing a manifesto on civil disobedience?
A: I think the spirit of love and peace and Christianity can help us explain the spirit of the movement.
Q: By holding the manifesto announcement in a church, were you seeking to draw moral comfort from that environment?
A: As I wrote in my article, I wished people to be calm and solemn in occupation. The atmosphere of the church was the most suitable as the starting point of the movement.
Q: The three of you joined together in creating this manifesto.
Q: And you’ve already said the last resort was occupation. Was occupation contingent upon any event?
A: Only after exhausting all legal means and not achieving the right to universal suffrage which is guaranteed by the constitution would we adopt the method of civil disobedience.
Q: Is it correct to summarize your position as depending on the result of negotiations with the central or HKSAR government?
Q: You must have had some agreement amongst yourselves as to the place or places you’d occupy if it ever got to that last resort scenario.
Q: Did that intention between you, Tai and Chu ever extend beyond Central?
Q: What did you mean by Central for this purpose?
A: We had a very specific location, Chater Road.
Q: Did you ever intend to occupy Causeway Bay?
Q: You made an application to police to hold a public meeting for Chater Rd, Chater Garden & Statue Square.
Q: It was to be held between 3pm to 11:59pm on 1 Oct 2014, 7pm to 11:59pm on 2 Oct 2014, & 1–3 Oct 3pm to 11:59pm.
[Defence counsel points out there’s a discrepancy between the Chinese and English versions regarding the times on the application and asks the question again.]
Q: Was occupation to commence 7am or 7pm?
A: I need to clarify. You’re talking about 2 October? I need to think about it first.
Judge: Do you want to look at the notification to refresh your memory? [Note: OCLP had made a notification to police and applied for a letter of no objection, as required to by law. The prosecution had brought this up in its case.]
A: Yes, it should start at 7am.
Q: 1 & 2 October were public holidays.
Q: This notification which is submitted on 18 September 2014, was that the culmination of what you had been intending since 2013?
Q: Let’s go back to June 2013. You told the court that the first step of the four phases is the deliberation day.
Q: From June 2013 to May 2014, did you together with Tai and Chu organize the intended series of deliberation days?
Q: What is the intent of a deliberation day?
A: The first phase was mainly about the discussion of the movement. The second part was the discussion as to what reform proposal we should make to the government.
Q: Who were the sorts of people who attended these deliberation days?
A: From all walks of life. In addition to political parties and members of civil society organizations, we had members who were working at investment banks, social workers, women, even street sleepers and psychiatric patients. They were invited by us to participate.
Q: What sort of numbers attended these deliberation days?
A: Around 3,000 people in total.
Q: Do you meaning adding up each of the deliberation days or on a particular day?
A: On the third day, 3,000 participated. These also participated in the previous deliberation days.
Q: Altogether, about how many deliberation days were there?
A: The first deliberation day finished in one day. The second was actually conferences held in different communities. There were tens of deliberations in all.
Q: In which places were these deliberation days held?
A: For example, universities, churches, or even on the streets.
Q: Were there people from overseas invited to any of these deliberation days?
A: Not to the deliberation days.
Q: In these deliberation days, was there consideration of the objectives & strategies of OCLP?
A: Yes, as I have mentioned, the first phase was mainly about the discussion of the movement.
Q: In relation to the second broad purpose, the reform proposal, how did that get developed in these deliberation days?
A: We wanted the participants to choose three proposals out of many. However, since we had to make a reform proposal that meets international standards, we first asked Hong Kong University Faculty of Law to organize a seminar in which international experts participated to assess the constitutional reform proposals already articulated in society and to choose the proposals that met international standards. Then we intended to have the participants on the third deliberation day make their choice [from those proposals that met international standards].
Q: You and the other two planned these days.
Q: The end of the deliberation days completed phase one of your four-step plan.
Q: Now some questions about phase two, authorization referendum. Between 20 and 29 June 2014, did you together with Tai and Chu organize a civil referendum?
Q: What was the purpose of this referendum?
A: On deliberation day 3, three proposals were chosen. We wanted citizens to choose one of the three. The proposal chosen would be given to the government.
Q: Some 792,000 voters turned out. Is that approximately correct?
Q: What option did the majority of voters select?
A: They chose the proposal from the Alliance for Genuine Universal Suffrage. That proposal allowed nomination of Chief Executive candidates in three ways, civil, political party and nominating committee.
Q: Did the voters also agree on a proposal about a veto situation?
Q: Who proposed the veto proposal?
A: That veto proposal means if the government proposes a constitutional reform that doesn’t meet international standards, this proposal should be vetoed by the Legislative Council
Q: Was it Cardinal Zen who made the veto proposal?
A: I think he was just one of the people who agreed with this proposal.
Q: After the referendum, what did you, Tai and Chu then do based on the results?
A: We immediately contacted the government officials who were responsible for constitutional reform. We sought to have a dialogue with them.
Q: Did that dialogue ever occur?
A: The government made no reply. At the end of July, we had a meeting with Carrie Lam.
Q: You mean the then Chief Secretary of Hong Kong?
Q: Was this a face-to-face meeting or a telephone meeting?
A: Face to face.
A: Government headquarters
Q: How long did this meeting last?
A: Less than an hour
Q: What was the conclusion or signal you took from the meeting?
A: At the time our biggest wish was to tell her our constitutional reform proposal. We wanted her to understand what we wanted was an election with competition. Now after the civil referendum, there was already a proposal. If the government disagreed, we wanted it to propose another. But I found that there was no opportunity in the meeting to discuss constitutional reform proposals in detail. Secretary Lau Kong-wah just continued saying we were radical. And Carrie Lam just repeatedly asked us to end this movement as soon as possible.
Q: Was there from your perspective a clear signal from the meeting?
A: The government was unwilling to have any concrete negotiations with us. They did not even make any promise about whether there would be another meeting before they left the meeting room. They even just left our report on the civil referendum on the sofa and did not take it away.
Q: I want to ask you about something that occurred on 1 July 2014, between the civil referendum and when you met Carrie Lam. Did any students occupy any portion of Central?
Q: Did you attend or witness what happened yourself?
A: We disagreed with their occupation after the July 1 march. So the three of us did not attend.
Q: What was your disagreement with their actions?
A: We thought we hadn’t finished phase 3, the dialogue with the government. As a result, we did not want to conduct civil disobedience.
Q: So their actions didn’t accord with your four-step plan. After that occurred, were there discussions between you, Tai and Chu and Hong Kong Federation of Students about what had occurred?
A: Actually, it was not after. We already knew they were going to do that beforehand and there were discussions.
Q: Did you think they were too impatient and did they think you were too slow?
A: The students always thought we were too slow. They wanted to commit civil disobedience in order to press for negotiations. We believed we had to exhaust opportunities for dialogue first. We had different views, but we respected each other.
Q: Common aim, different paces
Q: The students on 1 July stayed until the morning of the 2nd. Were you aware of that?
A: Yes. Though we didn’t participate, we were very focused on it.
Q: What do you think were the consequences to Hong Kong society of that brief student occupation from 1 to 2 July?
A: They called it a “rehearsal’ for Occupy Central. They completely complied with the requirements of OCLP for nonviolence. They didn’t have any physical confrontation with police and we didn’t even see any verbal abuse. I believe from then many Hong Kong people could see how the situation would be when Occupy Central took place.
[Court adjourned for lunch]
Q: This morning we discussed the four phases of the civil disobedience campaign, deliberation, authorization, communication, occupation. Is that accurate?
Q: And you told us about the meeting of 29 July 2014 with the Chief Secretary and others. When did phase 3 finish?
A: After the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decision of 31 August, there was no more room for dialogue. The three of us thought Beijing had made this decision and discussion was no longer possible.
Judge: Was this your own thinking or all three?
A: The three of us had already had a discussion.
Q: Had you already discussed the implications of the NPCSC decision on a number of occasions?
A: Yes, the three of us.
Judge: On a number of occasions?
A: Already on the evening of 31 Aug, we held a rally at Tamar Park, and at this rally, people from different groups made speeches on the stage. We shared the same view: The path of dialogue had come to an end and the era of disobedience had begun.
Q: So you’re moving from dialogue and communication with the government to resistance?
A: Yes, but by “resistance” we mean civil disobedience.
Q: What was your reaction upon learning of the NPCSC decision?
A: I was very disappointed and I think the decision was unconstitutional. For one, the decision contravened the requirements of universal suffrage in the Basic Law because there is a very clear definition of universal suffrage. If opposing forces are eliminated from participating in an election, it does not meet the definition of universal suffrage. Furthermore, in 2004 the NPCSC made a decision on a five-step process of constitutional development. In the second step, the central government should only allow or disallow the HKSAR government to carry out constitutional reform. It should not set up a detailed framework for the Hong Kong government. That should only be done at the third step in the five-step process. Therefore, I consider this decision unconstitutional.
Q: What day was this meeting in Tamar Park?
A: The evening of 31 August.
Q: About how many people attended?
A: We estimated 5,000.
Q: Is there a relationship between the 31 August NPCSC decision and the time you decided to hold the 31 August evening public meeting?
A: Yes, it triggered the fourth phase of our plan, civil disobedience.
Q: So you made the notification because of the NPCSC decision?
[Chan is shown the notification made to police for OCLP’s planned 1 and 2 October gathering in Central. He’s asked to confirm the information there.]
Q: In practical terms, your intention was on 1 and 2 October to occupy the pedestrian area of Chater Rd?
[Attorney goes over exact dates and places in notification. Chan confirms these. They all have to do with places in Central between 1 and 3 October.]
Q: If you had not received a notice of prohibition from the police, did you have any attention to stay beyond the times set out there?
A: Yes, what we were thinking was we might stay behind after the lawful meeting.
Q: It would not have been civil disobedience if you had only stayed for the times permitted under the notification.
Q: How much longer did you intend to stay?
A: We three had different estimates. We all thought the occupation would end in a few days.
Q: What is your personal estimate of how much longer you intended to stay?
A: I estimated that maybe it would end around 5 October.
Q: Two more days or so?
A: Three more days.
Q: What was your intention as to in which location or locations this extended occupation would occur?
A: The pedestrian area on Chater Rd
Q: Your only intention was to occupy the area set out in par.2 of the notification?
Q: The purpose of the meeting was what?
A: To raise the public awareness about universal suffrage
Q: There is an estimate of those attending. Is that an estimate you had made?
A: 5,000 to 50,000 people was filled in by Chu Yiu-ming. All along we were talking about 10,000 people to occupy Central. So that’s what I expected.
Q: Did you and Tai and Chu discuss the estimate of attendees?
A: We shared similar views about the number of people, several thousand to 10,000.
Q: Did you, Tai and Chu agree upon confining your overstay to the locations in the notification?
A: If the number of participants was several thousand to 10,000 people, we were confident of keeping the crowd in the pedestrian area of Chater Rd.
Q: When you filed the notification, did you formally announce the plan for 1 to 3 October?
A: Because we still had not received a letter of no objection, we never formally announced it, but we hinted to the public we would start the occupation on 1 October. The words we used were “we will have a banquet”.
Q: Were you aware of Tai giving an interview to Bloomberg around that time?
Q: What is Bloomberg, for those who may not be sure?
A: It is a news outlet reporting economic news.
Q: Based in the United States.
A: I think so.
Q: Do you remember what Tai said to Bloomberg?
A: Yes, he said the occupation would be conducted on a public holiday to avoid too much disruption to the economy.
Q: Is that something you’d discussed with Tai and Chu, the desirability of minimizing damage to the economy?
A: This way of putting it is not from the discussion of the three of us. I never thought Hong Kong as a commercial center would be paralyzed by the occupation because protesters would in the most peaceful manner just sit and wait to be arrested. If the government did not delay deliberately the arrests, the occupation would not take too long to come to an end.Tai’s remarks were too polite.A short-term disruption would be accepted by society. I don’t entirely agree with this way of putting it. But I do agree the plan was that it would end after a few days.
Q: On 18 September 2014, notification was given to police. On that same day, did you announce any code of conduct for occupying Central?
Q: In Ming Pao?
A: I don’t remember which newspaper.
Q: What were the important aspects of that code of conduct that you wanted people to know and understand?
A: The most important principle was nonviolence. I didn’t want participants to have any physical or verbal conflict with the police or any anti-occupiers. We hoped participants wouldn’t wear facial masks or behave irresponsibly.
Q: In that code, did you have any requirements about loudspeakers or banners?
A: Yes, we said they could not use loudspeakers as they wished or display banners that were against the principles of Occupy Central.
Q: Did you have any requirements about attendees dispersing?
A: I remember it was said they should follow instructions from the main stage. If the decision was to retreat, they should retreat.
Q: Did the code of conduct prohibit interaction with the police by way of barricade or shoving?
A: I remember shoving and barriers were prohibited.
Q: Was it your, Tai and Chu’s intention that participants had to sign any consent form adopting the code of conduct you referred to?
A: The consent form was not in that much detail. It only mentioned the principle of nonviolence. Before the announcement of the code of conduct, 3,000 people had already signed a letter of intent on the deliberation days. At that stage, we already repeatedly talked about the principle of civil disobedience and stressed that it had to be nonviolent.
Q: Was there actual training in advance for nonviolent resistance methods?
A: OCLP organized one training on nonviolent resistance. Student organizations also organized their own training.
Q: Did the training extend to how to wait to be arrested?
Q: Can you briefly explain?
A: When the police came to arrest, protesters had to sit down, avoid conflict, and not struggle. Otherwise, both the protester and the police could be hurt. They should let their bodies go limp and let police carry them away to the police vehicle.
Q: Let’s move forward to 22 September 2014. Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism have launched class boycotts. Were you aware of that before it happened?
Q: Were you aware of what happened on 26 September at the end of the class boycott?
A: I was not aware of that at the time.
Q: I’m referring to the fact that certain students stormed government headquarters to reclaim Civic Square. Did you know that would happen?
A: I didn’t know about it at all in advance.
Q: You learned later that some of the prominent student leaders had been arrested?
A: On the night of the 26th, we OCLP organizers were discussing arrangements for 1 October. We finished at 10 or 11. It was only when the meeting was finished that someone informed us that some students had been arrested for reclaiming Civic Square.
Q: Did you become aware that some tens of thousands of people had gathered at government headquarters to support the students?
A: On the night of the 26th, we spent a long time in the meeting. I didn’t know what was happening there, only that some citizens went there to support the students.
Q: Did you, Tai & Chu have a meeting on the night of 26 September?
A: I think the clubhouse of Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union but I don’t remember clearly.
Q: Where’s that?
A: Kowloon. Since it was a long time ago, I don’t recall the location that precisely.
Q: Were you receiving media reports of the events of 26 September before that meeting?
A: What events are you referring to? Do you mean the reclaiming of Civic Square?
A: Not at all before the meeting
Q: What was the objective of the meeting of you three?
A: We discussed in detail arrangements for Occupy Central on 1 October. For example, we divided the occupation location into different zones.Different groups would be responsible for keeping order. Some young people said they were going to sing and play guitar but we worried it would disrupt the nearby Mandarin Oriental hotel, so we arranged for them to be far away from the hotel. Such logistical arrangements.
Q: So your intention at that time was to continue what you had notified the police you’d be doing.
Q: Did you receive a telephone call from Tai on the morning of 27 September?
Q: Where were you and what were you doing?
A: I was about to return to the university because some of my students had participated in the class boycott and couldn’t attend my class. I held a make-up class for them.
Q: What did Tai tell you?
A: I only remember the gist. He said the situation in Admiralty was urgent. He wanted me to go there with him to find out for ourselves.
Q: What was the purpose of going there? Just to look?
A: To understand what was happening.
Q: What time did you arrive in the Admiralty area?
A: Between 10 and 11, at any rate before noon.
Q: Was Tai already there or did he come later?
A: We arranged to meet at a certain location at Admiralty and then went to the area around government headquarters.
Q: Was Reverend Chu also there?
A: I think he wasn’t there. I just remember walking with Professor Tai.
Q: Can you tell the court with some precision where you went at government headquarters?
A: I walked on the footbridge from Admiralty Centre & went down from there to outside Civic Square.
Q: When you got there, did you get any reaction from the people who were already there?
A: While walking there, I heard some young people telling us off. They said, Young people have done a lot. Where are you guys? They asked us to occupy Central immediately.
Q: Was this one or two students or more?
A: From what I recall, I think there were three or four people saying this along the way. After we sat down outside Civic Square, other young people were saying that.
Q: So they were complaining about your inaction?
Q: When you and Tai sat down together, what did you talk about in light of those student comments?
A: I don’t remember discussing that in any detail. We still thought the occupation should start on 1 October. We said we would discuss with pan-democratic leaders about the incident.
Q: Did you discuss what to do with certain pan-democratic legislators?
A: Now I can only remember one or two. Others participating in it, I have a very vague memory.
Q: With these legislators were you discussing what to do?
A: Basically we were wondering what to do next, whether we should occupy Central early or stick to the original plan.
Q: Did you consider ever the occupation of Harcourt Road at that time?
A: At the time we thought the occupation movement could be started at Tim Mei Avenue. Also it was discussed whether the occupation would extend to Harcourt Rd after a period of time. But we all thought that the traffic on Harcourt Rd was so heavy, it was hard to imagine [occupying it].
Q: You mean because of the danger?
A: Yes, we were afraid if protesters went out to Harcourt Rd, they might get hurt because of the heavy traffic there. That’s why we thought of asking people to go to Tim Mei Ave.
Judge: Who do you mean by “we”?
A: Actually, there would not be any decisions made in that meeting.
Judge: I’m not interested in what decision was made. I’m interested in what was meant by “we”.
A: I meant me, Chu and Tai.
Judge: But I thought you said all three were not there at that time.
A: I remember it was already in the afternoon of the 27th when the meeting was held. Reverend Chu had already arrived in Admiralty at that time.
Q: And he was a party to those discussions?
Q: Apart from meeting legislators, were there other groups you met to discuss the way forward.
Q: Do you wish to say who they were?
A: Mainly student leaders
Q: The leaders of some student groups had been arrested at that time. Do you recall that?
A: When I discussed this with Scholarism, they told me Joshua Wong was already arrested. That’s why they couldn’t comment whether there should be an early occupation of Central. That was different from the meeting with HKFS. Their representative told me that their leaders were also arrested. They thought they were already very tired. They wanted support from OCLP. But their representative could not make a decision. However, HKFS had a standing committee and it would be decided among them whether or not they would allow us to go to Tim Mei Ave and announce that we supported them.
Q: Did they come to you with a decision at some stage?
A: I remember we had a meeting with them very late on the 27th. We waited for them until 1-something am on the 28th. They told us that they agreed we could announce that Occupy Central would start early there. That is the reason why we announced it at 1:30-something am.
Q: That was announced by Tai and you and Chu were present.
A: Yes. The HKFS representatives were also present.
Q: What did you say to those assembled about how you would conduct yourself now that you had made this announcement? Did you speak at that time?
A: Yes. I asked the crowd to comply with nonviolent principles. Basically, it was similar to the rules we’d announced earlier: no conflicts with police while being arrested.
Judge: Is this what we played in court earlier on?
A: I think so.
Q: It was. Tai has made this announcement. You spoke. What was the reaction, in particular of students, to your announcement?
A: The reaction of the several hundred people in front of the stage was very different from that of people further away. The people at the front, on hearing what we said through the loudspeaker were excited. They applauded and welcomed our decision. But very soon, I saw some young people approaching us from far away. They criticized us vigorously for hijacking the student movement. I explained to them that we did that with the consent of the HKFS standing committee. Then some people stopped blaming us. But still, there were many young people not only blaming us but also complaining to HKFS representatives.
Q: Did you explain the nature of the role that would be played by OCLP?
A: I remember that we said on the stage that we came to support students. But I believe the participants who were standing far away may not have been able to hear clearly what was said on the stage. So I think they might as a result have thought we stole the right to lead from the student movement.
Q:Did any people specifically tell the crowd that the occupation had not been initiated by OCLP?
A:I remember that many people were leaving. So student leaders started saying on the stage that it was not OCLP, it was an all-citizen movement. I remember Agnes Chow said that. Or maybe it was Tommy Cheung.
Q: You said many protesters were leaving. Were they leaving after Tai had made the announcement or because of it?
A: Very shortly after the announcement of the start of Occupy Central, we heard that the crowd were leaving.
Q: Did Tai go to a particular place with a loudspeaker to try to address people?
A: Because people who were relatively far away from the stage could not hear us, Tai and Chu went to the “bottom of the rice cooker of Legco” [Legco protest area] to explain things to people.
Q: Was he successful in persuading people not to leave?
A: As far as I know, no. The student leaders on the stage were very nervous. For example, they did not let us stand on the stage. That’s why, at the time, we could only sit on the side.
Q: So Tai’s unsuccessful advocacy had not stopped large numbers of people from leaving?
Q: About how many hundreds of people remained in Tim Mei Road [sic]? [Note: Throughout the defence counsel referred to Tim Mei Avenue as Tim Mei Road.]
A: If you’re talking about around dawn of 28 September, I think there were only a few hundred people left on Tim Mei Ave.
Q: Prior to your announcement, how many people were there?
A: I think several thousand at least.
Q: How did you feel about the mass departure?
A: It had a huge impact.
Q: Did you question yourself whether you’d made the right decision to announce Occupy?
A: Yes, I questioned myself.
Q: Did you stay there that night?
Q: Was Tai there as well?
Q: Was Chu there as well? I know he has a health condition.
A: I think he was there as well.
Defence counsel: We’d like to start at 10 am tomorrow to have time to set up a film that is about an hour in length. It is film that has never been seen. I estimate the witness testimony will continue until tomorrow afternoon.
[Court adjourned until 10 am on 30 November]
[Umbrella Movement 9 trial, Day 9, 30 November. Chan Kin-man’s testimony in his own defence continues. A large crowd of supporters, as on the first day of the trial, returns. The courtroom gallery (capacity 100) is completely full. Most of lobby outside the courtroom is almost full as well.]
Defence counsel: Yesterday we concluded with the early morning of 28 September 2014 and your failure to persuade people to remain at Tim Mei Rd after declaring Occupy Central open. During the morning of the 28th, did you ever see police officers come in towards the area?
A: I think around dawn, 6am, police officers walked past the main stage. I immediately woke up and looked at them. One of the police officers, the one who was leading, told me, It’s ok, later on there will be more police officers passing by.
Q: What did you assume was the reason for the presence of those police officers?
A: I’m sorry, I have to make the time clear first. Give me some time.
Q: Did you think that team of police officers was coming to arrest you and the supporters?
A: No. He or she already said they were not going to arrest me. Just now I said I have to think clearly because I’m not sure whether it was dawn on the 28th or dawn on the 29th when they passed by me. I admit that I am a bit confused at this time.
Q: Let’s move on then. Let’s move to around midday on the 28th of September. What was the atmosphere from your perspective at that time?
A: The atmosphere at the scene was very frustrating because there were only a few hundred people remaining.
Q: Were those people who remained peaceful and dignified in their protest?
Q: At some stage, did you learn that many people were blocked by the police from coming into Tim Mei Rd?
A: Around noon, I heard [someone- I missed the name] saying on the stage that many people were coming to support us. At the time I thought he was just cheering himself up. Slowly, we believed that the crowd was coming but could not enter. I just heard that from the stage.
Q: At what time were you able to personally see the number of people who were trying to enter?
A: I think it was close to 4pm. We at the junction of Tim Mei Ave and Harcourt Rd could see through the police barriers and saw that there were many people on Harcourt Rd.
Q: Did this give you any encouragement?
A: At the time I was very emotional. For the whole night, I felt that the crowd abandoned us. And suddenly seeing so many Hong Kong people coming out, I was very moved.
Q: Was Tai present with you at this time?
Q: And Reverend Chu?
Q: Having seen this action by people turning up, did you decide to call a press conference?
Q: When I say you, I mean the three of you.
Q: What was the purpose of that press conference?
A: I wanted to explain to the public that Hong Kong citizens took their own initiative and occupied Harcourt Rd.
Q: So it was spontaneous by the citizens.
A: Of course, at the time we were inside and there was no possibility to give instructions.
Q: What time did you give a press conference?
Q: Did anything happen immediately prior to the press conference?
A: I was standing on the main stage holding a microphone. It was two minutes to six. I heard a very loud noise. I saw that on Harcourt Rd, a teargas grenade exploded. The smoke was coming in the direction of Tim Mei Ave.
Q: What instruction or advice did you give to protesters, having seen the teargas canisters being discharged?
A: When the first teargas canister was discharged, I did not react. Then very soon after, perhaps several seconds later, another teargas canister was discharged. I believed more teargas canisters would be shot into the crowd. I then asked Shiu Ka-chun who was holding the microphone on the stage at the time to ask the crowd gathering at Tim Mei Ave to leave immediately. Because it had already been discussed when we declared Occupy Central. That is, if the police used teargas canisters, we would ask the crowd to leave. The reason is that we feared for the crowd’s safety.
Q: So you had determined if teargas was used, you’d call on people to disperse.
Q: Was the dispersal instruction given?
A: Yes. Shiu Ka-chun kept asking the crowd to leave.
Q: And did people leave?
A: Most people were very scared and went in the direction of Tamar Park.
Q: In the direction of the waterfront?
Q: What was the atmosphere or mood at that time when people were leaving, teargas having exploded?
A: I saw that many people just left umbrellas and other items on the street, so I thought the atmosphere was panicky.
Q: Did anyone go toward the stage and talk about any particular individuals?
A: I remember an incident in which an old person was involved. A volunteer told me that a very old person had breathing difficulties while leaving. He asked this old person to leave as soon as possible and go to the hospital. But this old person insisted on staying. I told the volunteer that the Occupy Central trio and student leaders required him to leave immediately. And it was only after that he was willing to leave.
Q: Did you later learn the name of this person or how old he was?
A: He was probably ninety years old.
Judge: Did you see the old person at that time?
A: At the time, I did not see the old person. I was only informed.
Judge: This is hearsay.
Defence: I won’t disagree.
Defence: Now we will play a film, “Umbrella Diaries: the First Umbrella”. It’s a documentary, a contemporary film, original footage. We would like to play 64 minutes, commencing at the 54th minute. The director has permitted us to play this film with the court’s permission.
[The hour-long clip of “Umbrella Diaries” film has just finished. ]
Defence counsel: You can’t possibly have personal knowledge of everything in that film, but to the extent that you were depicted or spoke, was it an accurate representation?
Q: In relation to Tai and Chu?
A: I’m not sure whether Reverend Chu is shown in it, but it’s accurate.
Q: Did the film substantially accord with what you saw yourself on 27, 28 and 29 September?
[Prosecution to judge: Please ignore the background music of the film.]
Q: You’ve given evidence that from the 27th to 29th you were in the Tim Mei Rd and Harcourt Rd area. Is that a fair description of where you were?
Q: Plainly you can’t have personal knowledge of places beyond that geographical area at that time.
Q: I want to ask you questions about the early morning of the 29th.The people blocking the roads,were you effectively trapped in Tim Mei Rd?
Q: Did the police stay or retreat from that area at that time?
A: On the 29th in the morning, the police passed by me, as I said before. They said, It’s ok, later this morning, more police officers will pass by you. Then I saw the police were slowly leaving the area of Tim Mei Ave & Harcourt Rd.
Q: Did you at that time ask yourself why the police might be leaving?
A: Actually, I was quite surprised. After the firing of the teargas canisters, we anticipated they would come and arrest us. But no one arrested us the whole evening. At dawn, on seeing the police retreating on a large scale, I was a bit worried. I was wondering what the government wanted to do. It was a large number of people but the police weren’t staying. Did they want to create anarchy?
Q: Did there exist at this time barricades separating Tim Mei Rd from Harcourt Rd?
Q: Did those barricades remain in place?
Q: Was there ever a time when the protesters from Tim Mei Rd were able to join up with those from Harcourt Rd?
A: According to my recollection, the actual situation was that the people from Harcourt Rd entered Tim Mei Ave.
Q: We’ve seen teargas was fired. What did you, Tai and Chu resolve to do as a result of that occurrence?
A: We the OCLP trio and a group of people were sitting at the edge of the main stage waiting to be arrested. But after a long period of time, no police officers arrested us, so after that night, I left the stage. I was standing at the junction of Tim Mei Ave and Harcourt Rd in front of the barriers. I witnessed for one night how the police fired teargas canisters. They dispersed the crowd but they came back.
Q: Stage 3 of your Occupy Central plan was always about dialogue. After the teargas, did you, Tai and Chu consider further dialogue with the government should be attempted?
A: Yes. Through some pan-democratic [Legco] members after the first few days of occupation some senior government officials including Carrie Lam were contacted by phone.
Q: Were these personal telephone calls you had with the Chief Secretary and Edward Yau [Yau Tang-wah, then Director of the Office of the Chief Executive]?
A: With Carrie Lam, I had a telephone conversation, one to one. With Yau Tang-wah, it was a conference call. In the conversation, the OCLP trio and pan-democratic legislators were sitting there.
Q: You had the call with the Chief Secretary first. Did you call her, or the other way round?
A: The pan-democratic legislators had a call with her first. Then the phone was passed to me.
Q: About what time was this?
A: Actually, it was between 30 September and 2 October. That was about two to three days after the firing of the teargas.
Q: What did you say to the Chief Secretary in that telephone call?
A: At the time, the theme was to consider how to resolve the crisis. This was the question Carrie Lam asked me. I responded that [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying must step down in order to solve this crisis. Carrie Lam said it was not something that she could do in her capacity. I then said, the Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang should step down because he should not use teargas against peaceful protesters. Carrie Lam’s reply was that the government could not fire an official as it pleases. A proper procedure must be followed. I then raised that the government should form an independent investigation committee to investigate whether the use of teargas against peaceful protesters was the right decision. Carrie Lam said she could consider this question. The conversation following that was mainly about how to promote dialogue with the students. I can no longer recall the details. But I remember Carrie Lam had positive views on this suggestion. And she revealed Leung Chun-ying must be persuaded before it could be done.
Q: You also revealed a telephone conversation with Edward Yau.
Q: When was that? Before or after the conversation with the Chief Secretary?
A: After that.
Q: What occurred in that conversation?
A: I remember that on the 2nd the government announced that it would hold a dialogue with students. On the 3rd, some triad members assaulted protesters in Mong Kok. The students called off the dialogue. Therefore, the conversation with Yau was about how to restore the dialogue between government and students. Yau basically said he wanted us to help open some roads to create a less confrontational atmosphere so that there could be a dialogue between the government and students. I remember several places were mentioned including Admiralty footbridge, Queensway, and the passage to government headquarters.
Q: Did the dialogue between the students and government actually take place?
A: Yes, it did take place, but leading to it, many things happened. As I have mentioned, the students were dissatisfied about the assault by the triad members on protesters, and they called it off. On the government’s side, the pan-democrats suggested an all-citizens resistance. As a result, the government cancelled it. So we tried to communicate with both sides, and on the 21st the dialogue finally took place.
Q: Had there been a number of twists and turns from the time of the conversations with the Chief Secretary and Yau to when the dialogue took place?
A: Yes, the ones I just mentioned.
Q: Did the government designate a particular counterpart for the conversation?
A: They designated Hong Kong Federation of Students.
Q: Does it follow that neither you nor Tai nor Chu thereafter had negotiations with the government?
Judge: Because HKFS was designated, OCLP were not party. It follows.
A: Correct. We did not take part.
Q: Even though the wider movement comprised HKFS, Scholarism, OCLP, pan-democrats and NGOs, the government designated only one counterpart for dialogue?
A: Yes. During the Umbrella Movement, a five-party platform for dialogue was founded including the five groups. But the government mainly chose HKFS as the target of negotiations.
Q: We’ve seen from different films in evidence that footbridges to government headquarters appeared to be occupied by protesters. Did OCLP take any steps in changing that occupation of those footbridges?
A: We did not want to paralyze government offices. We did not think the society would support this. Therefore, we negotiated with the protesters on the footbridges to see whether they could be opened for the government employees to go to work. But we could only negotiate with these protesters because they would not just accept instructions. We had some jargon: areas of the occupations were called “villages”. In different occupied areas, there were also village heads. They were the more active occupiers. They didn’t necessarily belong to any political groups. Therefore, it took us a long time to negotiate with the village heads who usually negotiated on behalf of their villages.
Q: And these attempts you were making were with the support of Tai and Chu?
A: Yes, actually Reverend Chu and Tai did more than I of these duties. I remember that I dealt with the villages outside Citic Tower. After the court ordered an injunction, Albert Ho and I went there to explain to the villagers what might happen if an injunction was contravened. After we finished, the two of us had to leave. The villagers discussed and decided for themselves whether to leave or to stay.
Q: Did you succeed in getting the footbridges to government headquarters opened?
Q: Did you think this could be beneficial for a better prospect of success for the government dialogue?
Q: And it would plainly assist in minimizing confrontation by having those footbridges open?
A: Yes. Especially because we wanted to avoid any conflict involving bloodshed. If either the Chief Executive’s office or government offices were paralyzed, the government would have reason to clear the site with violence. We did not want to see more people get injured.
Q: You’ve referred to the dialogue between HKFS and the government on 21 October. Did HKFS continue with that dialogue after that round?
Q: Was that a decision you, Tai and Chu agreed with?
A: We wanted them to continue the negotiations. We hoped that after some results could be achieved through negotiations, the occupation could come to an end. If they were of the view that negotiations would not receive any substantial result, we thought that should be the time to leave the street. At the time, we already had some preparation for leaving the scene. The OCLP trio conducted two meetings with democratic parties. We suggested that Albert Ho could resign and through the by-election, a de facto referendum could be achieved. Because at the time, Legislator Ho held a functional constituency superseat [one of five for which all voters in Hong Kong can vote] in Legco. The election would be for all Hong Kong. If the de facto referendum could use the theme ‘object to 8.31 NPCSC decision and relaunch constitutional reform’, then the students could transform the occupy movement to different communities. But the students disagreed with withdrawing by this method. They did not continue the negotiations and they did not withdraw. We in OCLP disagreed with that.
Q: Let me see if I can accurately summarize what you just said. You recommended to the students to withdraw from the street.
Q: You wanted them to transform the occupation instead into a community movement by mobilizing them to work for the referendum.
Q: And this recommendation was rejected by the students.
Q: And you and Tai had been staying overnight in the Tamar Admiralty area regularly?
A: I and Tai had been there from the 27th [of September] to 27 October. However Reverend Chu, because of his health, did not sleep on the street but returned to his home.
Q: You were sleeping on the streets, and then you and Tai would go back to your universities to teach. Is that correct?
A: We did not go back to the universities until 28 October. That’s why I said I slept on the street until 27 October. It was one month after the firing of teargas that we returned to the universities to resume teaching.
Q: Your permanent departure from the Admiralty/Tamar area, was that in itself a form of gesture of retreat?
A: This is a gesture of ours to start retreating from the movement. But I directly let student leaders know that we could not support them as we had.
Q: And the students stopped consulting you from that time?
A: After the negotiations, there was a huge change with the student leaders because they did not accept continuing the negotiations and did not accept withdrawing. And our communication was almost stopped. We thought that we could no longer influence the students. It was thought that it was time to withdraw.
Q: Did you ever openly terminate your relationship with the students because of the occupations?
A: If you’re talking about “openly splitting with the students”, it was in a press conference held in early December and when we made an appeal to ask the students to leave.
Q:Did you together with others surrender to police on 3 December 2014?
Q:At that time, did you voluntarily admit to the police that you had taken part in an unauthorized assembly?
A:We admitted that we might have committed an offense of taking part in unauthorized assembly.
Q: Why did you join OCLP?
A: Just as the name suggests, it was out of my love for this place. I was born here and I am emotionally attached to here.
Q: Was what happened at Tamar/Admiralty what you had advocated since March 2013?
A: I think there were two important things the OCLP trio gave to the movement. The first was to make society focus on constitutional reform issues, to understand the importance of genuine universal suffrage. The second was to explain to the public why a peaceful approach has to be used in fighting for democracy.
[Defence counsel introduces a three-minute video taken by Leung Sok-ling, wife of Chan Kin-man at occupations.]
Q: Professor Chan is that an accurately portrayal of what you did and said on 18 October 2014?
A: I trust my wife.
Defence: That concludes our evidence.