July 1 rally may not be held next year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2012, 12:00am


The July 1 rally that has become the annual channel to air all manner of grievances may not be held next year as the organisers find more protests are draining their funds.

Events such as the chief executive election prompted more demonstrations, the Civil Human Rights Front said yesterday.

The group expects to spend HK$200,000 for this year's July 1 march - which will deplete its savings, drawn mainly from donations.

'We are worried that if we don't have more donations coming in, we may not be able to organise the July 1 rally next year,' front convenor Eric Lai Yan-ho said. The group hopes to raise funds during memorial activities for the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Since September last year, the front has organised five protests. It rallied against the appointment of Stephen Lam Sui-lung as chief secretary in October, against the 'small-circle' chief executive ballot in March, and against Leung Chun-ying's election as chief executive last month.

In addition to those rallies, there were expenses from supporting a simulated poll in March allowing the public to votes for the chief executive of their choice. The front has spent more than HK$100,000 since September.

Lai said savings of HK$300,000 would be the acceptable 'safety level' that would allow them to continue holding events.

This year's July 1 rally, the 10th since 2003, unifies multiple concerns in a single event. The theme is: 'Kick out collusion between government, business and political parties. Defend freedom and strive for democracy.'

Lai said they added the 'party' element, referring to the Communist Party, to the usual complaints of government-business collusion because 'the central government has been controlling Leung through its liaison office in Hong Kong'.

He urged the public to strive for universal suffrage for the chief executive and Legislative Council elections.

Other themes of opposition this year include Article 23 of the Basic Law - which requires the enactment of laws outlawing acts of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against Beijing - property hegemony, and abuse of police powers. There will also be calls for a universal retirement protection and tax reforms.

Local and immigrant labour groups would lead the procession to emphasise workers' rights, Lai said.

The march will start in Victoria Park at 2pm and end at the government headquarters in Admiralty.

Police will meet the organisers to discuss arrangements.

Mak Tak-ching, a member of the front, said police officers told him they were studying some new arrangements. 'We hope they will make it convenient for protesters.'

The front has designed promotional products including T-shirts and a poster with a 'July 1 rally' theme designed by a political cartoonist Cuson Lo. The pictures include political figures and recent political events such as a filibuster in the Legislative Council against a controversial bill that would limit by-elections.