HONG KONG - Pro-democracy protest groups in Hong Kong have abandoned a planned poll of supporters to decide negotiating positions for the movement, just hours before it was due to begin.
The groups Occupy Central with Love and Peace, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism released a statement Sunday afternoon local time, saying “As there were many disagreements over the format and motions of the vote, including over the complexity of the motions and the practical use of the vote, we have realized that we must act with caution.”
At a press conference in the city's Admiralty district held today, Occupy Central Benny Tai admitted that protest leaders “had acted in a rush... No-one is perfect -- mistakes must be admitted.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Scholarism leader Alex Chow adopted a similarly apologetic tone, reportedly saying “I admit the students have made a mistake,” and asking for protesters' forgiveness.
At issue were the motions to be voted on. One asked voters whether the Beijing government should withdraw its decision to require the political vetting of candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. The second asked if the Hong Kong government should allow candidates for the chief executive's post to be nominated by the public in 2017
The two issues are at the heart of Hong Kong's protests, and the decision to put to a vote topics that some saw as emblematic of the movement baffled some protesters. “The items of the referendum are the reasons why we are here. I think the vote is meaningless,” said Leonard Yuen, 19, speaking to the South China Morning Post.
The ballot was to be conducted conducted between 7 p.m. And 11 p.m. Sunday local time. No date has been set for any future vote.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and representatives from six local press organizations delivered a petition to city police today, demanding that authorities take action after journalists covering the protests were assaulted on Saturday.
â€” Joanna Chiu (@joannachiu) October 26, 2014
“When journalists can no longer work without fear, the public’s right to know is the next to suffer.” At least 24 journalists had been beaten up since the Occupy movement began more than three weeks ago, the association said in a statement.