Professionals out in force for rally

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2003, 12:00am

Lawyers, medics, artists and journalists endure the sweltering heat to take part

Thousands of professionals endured hours in the sweltering heat before taking their places in Hong Kong's biggest rally since 1989.

The Central Library was the meeting point for thousands of lawyers and medical workers, as well as artists and students. Some arrived as early as noon.

Veteran movie director Cheung Tong-joe was among about 100 artists. Sarcastically he said he took to the streets as he 'had nothing to do' - a response to security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's remark that people would attend the rally because they had nothing else to do on the public holiday. 'The government simply ignored us. It is this aloof attitude that angered so many people. Thousands of people are coming here because of [what she said],' he said.

Veteran film director Ann Hui On-wah said she feared there would be more limitations and pressure on film shoots in the future. 'We might not be able to shoot some films because the topics are sensitive. I support freedom of speech, thinking and creativity. These are the most precious things in Hong Kong. I am afraid that there will be much less freedom than before, especially in all kinds of creative work,' she said.

Political commentator and broadcaster Wong Yuk-man volunteered to help maintain order during the rally at a busy crossroads in Causeway Bay.

The legal profession was also heavily represented. Legal sector legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee joined the march and said the profession was against the anti-subversion law, which she said was being rushed through. 'Many senior people from the legal profession came here today, and it shows that we're all united. The government must listen to its people,' she said.

Fellow legislator Michael Mak Kwok-fung played a leading role for medical workers gathered both at the Central Library podium and at a nearby football pitch.

Holding a placard reading 'The con artist is damaging Hong Kong' - a reference to the name he called security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee last month and got kicked out of a Legco meeting - arrived just after noon and said the hot weather made life difficult. 'But even though it is hard work, it will be worth the effort,' he said.

Near the Central Library, journalists gathered outside Tin Hau MTR station.

The new chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists' Association, Cheung Ping-ling, said: 'Article 23 is taking away our freedom. Journalists should be given room to report what they feel the public should know,' Ms Cheung said, adding that she was marching because she wanted to stand up for the profession.

'At this time the public is feeling very emotional, and the media can show this. Without respect for reporters there would be no improvement in society.'