Pro-Leung rally organiser Patrick Ko revealed as New People's Party member
As supporters and opponents of the chief executive prepare to stage rival marches on New Year's Day, it has come to light that an organiser of the pro-Leung Chun-ying rally belongs to a political party, despite saying he had no such affiliation.
Patrick Ko Tat-pun, group convenor for The Voice of Loving Hong Kong, admitted yesterday that he was a member of the New People's Party, a Beijing-loyalist group founded by lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.
However, Ko said: "The Voice of Loving Hong Kong and the march have no connection with or backing from any political organisations."
He also disclosed that he had joined a social club in Shenzhen several years ago without being aware it was affiliated with the Communist Party's United Front Work Department.
Ip, a former secretary for security, said she was unaware that a party member was behind Tuesday's rally. She insisted her party had never participated in any activities organised by the group.
Although party members were free to carry out their own political activities, she said they should inform the party.
Ko also denied internet rumours that the group was paying people to support Leung's administration on Tuesday.
His group vowed to become more "radical" than the pan-democrats if they did not stop "obstructing" the chief executive.
Anti-Leung groups yesterday insisted they would defy a police ban on roadside stalls where they traditionally hand out literature, collect donations and sell political-party paraphernalia.
"Various groups are still planning to set up stalls along the Hong Kong Island route despite the police's ban," said Icarus Wong Ho-yin, who is deputy convenor of the Human Civil Rights Front, one of the organisers of the anti-Leung rally and also organiser of the annual July 1 march.
Police say the ban is for safety reasons and warned they would remove stalls. Wong said people manning the stalls were being told to video any police action.
Still, organisers of both protests say they do not foresee any conflict between their supporters - even though some groups from both sides will set off on Tuesday at different times from Victoria Park for the government offices at Tamar, Admiralty.
At Tamar, the demonstrations will be separated by an escalator.
At least six other marches will be held on New Year's Day - including one organised by Falun Gong, the spiritual movement banned on the mainland - and most will go from Victoria Park to Tamar in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, a group called Caring Hong Kong Power will stage a pro-Leung rally today. Marchers will wear white in response to the call by organisers of Tuesday's anti-Leung march for protesters to wear black.