Donations pour in but hard times looming

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2007, 12:00am

People taking part in yesterday's march for universal suffrage donated more than HK$58,000 to the organiser, Civil Human Rights Front, but that is unlikely to see the group through this year.

The group, which has been organising democracy marches since 2003, says this year's July 1 march is likely to be its last.

Convenor Jackie Hung Ling-yu said the organisation had about HK$340,000 with which to organise the July 1 march - the biggest on its calendar - and maintain its office in Mong Kok and one paid employee.

Ms Hung said the march usually cost about HK$250,000 to organise. While the group will not disband it would be difficult to organise future events, she said.

'We will always work together for democracy,' she said. 'But without an office and a secretary, it will be hard to sit down together and talk.'

Yesterday's march cost about HK$40,000, and pan-democratic lawmakers and organisations have agreed to share the costs. Ms Hung said the turnout of about 5,000 people exceeded expectations, given the limited time they had to prepare.

After deducting its share of the costs, the balance of the HK$58,000 would go towards maintaining the secretary for as long as possible.

'It's very sad. Even our one salaried employee has refused to take any pay increase for so long because everyone knows we have no money,' she said.

Ms Hung said organising a march required a considerable amount of money for publicity, printing leaflets, banners and T-shirts, purchase of insurance and hiring an area in Victoria Park for use as an assembly point.