October 10, 2014 – Few in Hong Kong had expected the talks between the Hong Kong administration and student protest leaders to deliver a major breakthrough but now that the discussions have been canned, protesters have expressed dismay at the government’s failure to honour its promise of dialogue.
“Of course I’m very disappointed by the cancellation of the talks. I think it’s the sole responsibility of the government to talk to the people,” said one protester. “I’m quite disappointed in them because I think they try to get rid of our requests and our demands,” added another protester.
But some residents say the students’ demands are unrealistic. “The government can’t deliver what the students are asking for, so even if the talks had gone on, it would have achieved nothing,” said one Hong Kong resident.
The cancellation of the anticipated talks came quickly after protest leaders had urged demonstrators to remain on the streets. The protest sit-ins had lost much of its momentum in the past few week but the government’s decision could inject it with a new lease of life.
And despite the growing feelings of public apathy and annoyance towards the pro-democracy movement, student leaders have rallied supporters to unleash a new wave of demonstrations. With the Occupy movement set to go on, commentators say it is now a waiting game and the only way out is for both parties to start talking.
“We’re not fighting a war here. There are no enemies. Silencing the other party is not an effective method whatsoever because we want the city to be governable,” said Professor Linda Li, political analyst at the City University of Hong Kong. “I hope both sides especially the government – this time it’s the Government calling over the talks – that we should reconvene the negotiations and not let it stop forever.”
Meanwhile, the protesters continue to dig in their heels and have set up tents and study areas at the protest sites. To end the stalemate, a signature campaign has been launched, urging government leaders and protesters to talk to each other. Signatories include prominent figures like former Hong Kong civil service secretary Joseph Wong and barrister Edward Chan.