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Momentum is building for a General Strike to protest an extradition bill that has thrown Hong Kong into its biggest political crisis since bloody riots swept the then British Crown Colony in 1967. Will protesters disrupt trains to give workers an excuse not to show up for work?
In This Post
Extradition Bill Shelved, but Not Withdrawn
The bill to amend Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which would have allowed suspects to be extradited to China, has been shelved but not withdrawn.
For many people in Hong Kong, shelving the bill is not good enough. They want the bill to be retracted.
Other demands include not referring to anti-extradition bill protests as “riots”, holding an independent investigation into police behavior at demonstrations, an unconditional release of all protesters arrested during protests, and the implementation of universal suffrage.
Many people would also like to see Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.
Hong Kong General Strike Called for on 5 August
Support for a general strike, which will be held on Monday (5 August), has been attracting more and more support. Workers in a growing number of sectors have already pledged to take part in the historic work stoppage.
The industrial action was first proposed by staff unions of the transport and social work sectors. But since then, workers in several other industries have pledged their support.
Included are employees in tertiary institutions, property management firms, the insurance industry, accountancy firms, artistic and cultural groups, and groups representing security guards.
In the transport sector alone, labour unions for at least five airlines, two bus companies, and the MTR have urged their members to go on strike.
Morning Star Travel, a local travel agency, has also thrown its support behind the strike.
According to the Confederation of Trade Unions, at least 95 unions affiliated with the confederation have endorsed the protest.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Extradition Bill Social Welfare Alliance says 33 organizations will close down temporarily, while 39 others will only provide limited services.
More than 2,000 social welfare workers have expressed their support for the strike.
Hong Kong International Airport – UPDATE
There is a likelihood flight delays and cancellations at Hong Kong International Airport on 5 August. It has even been suggested that only one of the airport’s two runways will be in operation.
Cathay Pacific Airways posted the following travel advisory at 1.45 am.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have been informed by the Airport Authority of Hong Kong that airport operation may be affected on 5 August 2019. We strongly recommend customers postpone non-essential travel on this day.
With immediate effect, rebooking and rerouting charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on/before 5 August 2019 for travel on Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon confirmed bookings arriving to and departing from HKG on 5 August 2019 and 6 August 2019. Please view more details on our Special ticketing guideline page.
All customers scheduled to fly are urged to check Flight Status before proceeding to the airport. To ensure you receive the latest flight status updates via SMS or email, please update contact details in Manage Booking.
To understand our service recovery during disruptions, please visit our Flight delays and cancellations page.
While disruption events like these can change significantly and at short notice, rest assured we are doing everything we can in advance to minimise the impact to customers.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will continue to update the affected flights on Monday, 5 August 2019 here as soon as possible.
Just past midnight, The Airport Authority issued the following travel advisory:
Potential circumstances on Monday, 5 August might affect airport operation[s]. The Airport Authority advises passengers to check with their airlines for the latest flight information, and to proceed to the airport only when their seats and flight time have been confirmed.
Support for Hong Kong General Strike Grows
Many small to medium enterprises are supporting the work stoppage, as well. Included are nearly 40 coffee shops and at least 45 other businesses.
In the broadcast industry, more than 30 programme hosts from Commercial Radio and the government-run RTHK have pledged to support the work stoppage.
Meanwhile, senior management at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) have agreed to let some staff take one day off without the need to produce any medical certificates, Radio Television Hong Kong reports.
Staff from several government agencies and semi-government organizations have also announced their support for 5/8 strike.
However, not everyone is on board. The pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions is calling on workers to show up for work as usual.
Hong Kong’s Last General Strike – 1967
According to Foreign Policy, Hong Kong’s last general strike was held in in 1967. It was instigated by Chinese Communists in opposition to British colonial rule.
The strike followed a series of major labour disputes, which descended into serious rioting, as the tumultuous Cultural Revolution spilled across the border into Hong Kong.
Approximately 60,000 workers went on strike, and roughly 20,000 students boycotted classes.
Thousands of bombs were laid across the colony, and an anti-Communist journalist was burned to death.
By the time the riots were over, there had been 51 deaths and numerous injuries.
Following the riots, the colonial administration initiated a series of social reforms to improve the lot of the Hong Kong’s working classes.
Would the current administration consider making such a move to assuage dissatisfaction in the community?
District Protests Across Hong Kong
Protesters are expected to engage in “non-cooperation” activities across Hong Kong in a bid to disrupt transport.
- Bus terminals will be obstructed from 4.30 am to 12.00 am.
- MTR trains will be disrupted from 7.30 am to 12.00 am.
- Territory-wide traffic will be obstructed from 7.30 am to 12.00 am.
.In addition to the General Strike, demonstrations will be held in several districts across Hong Kong.
- Admiralty – Tamar Park, Hong Kong Island. From 1 pm to 11 pm. Non-objection letter pending.
- Mongkok – Macperson Stadium, Kowloon Peninsula. From 1 pm. Non objection letter pending.
- Sha Tin – New Town Plaza, New Territories. From 1 pm. Non-objection letter not required.
- Sunny Bay – near Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island. Information not confirmed.
- Taipo – Tin Hau Temple Fung Shui Square, New Territories. Non-objection letter pending.
- Tsuen Wan – Tsuen Wan Park, New Territories. From 1 pm. Information not confirmed.
- Tuen Mun – Tuen Mun Cultural Square, New Territories. From 3 pm. Non-objection letter issued.
- Yuen Long – New Territories. Information not confirmed.
- Wong Tai Sin – Wong Tai Sin Square, Kowloon Peninsula. From 1 pm. Non-objection letter pending.
Please be aware that violence has erupted at many of the protests. There have been dozens of injuries – some serious and some critical. There have also been numerous arrests.
Anti Extradition Bill Protest History
The first anti-extradition bill protest was staged on 31 March, with a turnout of 12,000 people. It was organized by members of the legal community.
A second protest followed on 28 April. The march attracted an estimated 130,000 people.
Larger protests followed in June as opposition to the bill spread beyond the legal community to the business community and a wider spectrum of Hong Kong society.
One million people marched on 9 June. And close to 2 million people marched the following Sunday.
Broadening Support from Different Sectors
An estimated 9,000 senior citizens took part in a march in support of the anti-extradition bill in mid-July.
Airline employees held a protest at Hong Kong International Airport on 26 July. More than 15,000 protesters took place. Click HERE for more details.
Medical employees protested against police actions at hospitals saying that they had visited hospitals without warrants and arrested demonstrators seeking treatment. More than 10,000 people took part at the demonstration at Tamar Park on 2 August.
The same night, government employees demonstrated to express solidarity with demands for a total withdrawal of the extradition bill at Chater Garden. An estimated 40,000 people took part in the peaceful protest.
The following two days, however, violence broke out at protests held on both sides of Victoria Harbour.
Meanwhile, there have been rumours that protesters might disrupt the MTR, giving workers an excuse not to show up for work.
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The Peak Tram, the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art are currently closed for renovation.