'Occupy Central' rally may hit Rat Race

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2011, 12:00am


This weekend's 'Occupy Central' campaign, which echoes anti-Wall-Street demonstrations in the United States and elsewhere, may be heading for a clash with bankers and financiers running in Sunday's annual Central Rat Race charity event.

The anti-capitalist protest is set for Saturday, from 2pm to 5pm, at a podium in Exchange Square.

But some participants are vowing to continue their demonstration until Monday's opening of the stock exchange.

Napo Wong Weng-chi, a member of protest organiser Left21, said Saturday afternoon's protest would be a forum for discussing how people were affected by the unequal distribution of wealth and high property prices - and whether to prolong the protest until Monday.

The anti-capitalist protesters would taunt the Central Rat Race participants, he said, because the race organiser was Hongkong Land, a major landlord in Central.

Charity race runners will pass by the Exchange Square podium on Sunday morning.

'We are just responsible for organising the forum,' Wong said. 'Some participants want to stay for a longer period, and we will leave that decision to them. But I am prepared to stay longer.'

Wong said he expected 150 to 250 participants, and even more if the weather was good and if Hongkongers were unhappy with the chief executive's policy address delivered yesterday.

Apart from Left21, the League of Social Democrats and a group of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks from the V for Vendetta movie will take part in the campaign.

Last month, protesters in the same masks were involved in a violent clash at a government forum to discuss a proposed bill to scrap the Legislative Council by-elections.

King Lam, one of the masked protesters, said their members did not trigger the clash. His group would probably not want to prolong Saturday's protest, he said.

Public relations agency GolinHarris, which has been commissioned by Hongkong Land to help co-ordinate the charity race, said it expected the protest to end on Saturday and said the race would be held smoothly on Sunday.

The police had not received any notification from organisers about the 'Occupy Central' protest as of yesterday, a spokesman said.

Under the law, he said, any protest with more than 30 participants or an assembly with more than 50 participants must give police seven days advance notice.

This is the sixth year the Central Rat Race has been held. Hundreds of executives scurry around a 2.5-kilometre course in Hong Kong's business district.

This year they will raise money for the charity Mindset, which raises awareness about mental health issues.