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Mok says the protest in which half a million people marched against proposed national security legislation in 2003 led to a political awakening for some professionals and encouraged them to stand in the EC elections in 2007.

He is also the chairman of Professional Commons, which was formed by over 100 pan-democratic EC members from different professions after the 2007 Chief Executive election.

The group later helped pan-democratic professionals to run in the 2011 EC election. They also worked to show citizens that only pro-establishment Chief Executive candidates can win under the current system. “Only when we do this, can the unfairness of the system be emphasised,” Mok says.

Alfred Wong Yam-hong (middle) announces the launch of Médecins Inspirés Photo courtesy of Médecins Inspirés
Alfred Wong Yam-hong (middle) announces the launch of Médecins Inspirés
Photo courtesy of Médecins Inspirés

He thinks professionals have been politically awakened, especially after the Umbrella Movement. Some are now recalling the desire they had to apply their expertise to serve society or promote social justice when they first entered their professions, says Mok.

Others have rallied around the democratic cause because they see it as crucial to the development of the sector. Edward Chin Chi-kin, a 47-year-old hedge fund manager and columnist, founded the group, Financial Professionals for Occupy Central, and he says the group members advocate fair play and clean governance which are important to the financial sector.

Chin says he is worried about the hegemony of the city’s tycoons and the deteriorating integrity of government officials. He notes that 0.01 per cent of the population or just a few families, control the supply of daily necessities and electricity through a few listed companies. He is also alarmed that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accepted HK$50 million from UGL, an Australian engineering firm without paying tax in any jurisdiction.

Financial Professionals for Occupy Central recently changed its name to HK Finance Monitor 2047 which comprises 120 financial practitioners. In January, they published a list of 10 requests for Hong Kong’s future, including the establishment of a system of genuine universal suffrage, to the Communist Party of China in the Wall Street Journal newspaper.

With the close economic ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland and the growing number of Mainland-related job and business opportunities, Chin says many working in finance are reluctant to join his group or any social movements.

Dixon Sing Ming, an associate professor in the Division of Social Science of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, considers this a pity since he thinks professionals have certain advantages in leading social campaigns. He says they are well educated and competent in making use of their networks and articulating their beliefs in the media to mobilize more people to join their campaigns.

Seeming to embody these qualities, solicitor Kevin Yam Kin-fung distributed leaflets on a Saturday afternoon. He was promoting a new community group set up after the Umbrella Movement, Mei Foo Home and Public Affairs, and chatting with people from his neighbourhood. Yam hopes that he can encourage them to care more about the city’s democratic development while also addressing district affairs. “I don’t think professionals have a greater responsibility,” Yam says. “But we have been awakened to the fact that we can contribute to our society with our talents.”

Edited by Macau Mak