Pro-government rally draws thousands in support of CY
Chinese national flags are no longer synonymous with anti-Japanese protests on the mainland after hundreds of Hongkongers marched with the banners and expressed support for the embattled chief executive on Sunday.
The national emblem was accompanied by Hong Kong flags and nonstop chanting as backers of Leung Chun-ying braved cold weather for the rally.
The afternoon march, organised by Caring Hong Kong Power, took place ahead of a Civil Human Rights Front protest scheduled for Tuesday to demand that Leung step down. That march is expected to have 50,000 participants.
On Sunday, police said 2,400 participants showed up at the starting point; organisers said as many as 40,000 attended. Marchers were predominantly elderly and middle-aged people. Two journalists were reportedly assaulted by a Leung supporter.
Organisers said the rally served as a counterbalance against the pan-democrats’ repeated attempts to overthrow the chief executive.
Leung’s opponents accused the group of shifting attention away from what they call a major issue – the chief executive’s credibility. Leung has been embroiled in a scandal over illegal structures at his house on the Peak after admitting mistakes in handling the issue. Critics have cast doubt on his integrity, and his popularity has remained low.
A Leung supporter, retiree Liu Shing, called on pan-democrats to stop magnifying trivialities, saying on Sunday: “The government should focus on solving social issues.”
Another marcher, Jenny Lam, said: “I want a harmonious society, but politicians did everything to stop the government from functioning properly out of their own interest. This is intolerable.”
Before the march began at Victoria Park, Now TV cameraman Lau Ka-wo was hit in the head and his equipment was damaged; his colleague, reporter Chau Chi-wing, was injured in his right eye after his glasses had been pulled off, the television station said in a statement, which also condemned the violent acts.
The group marched from Victoria Park to government headquarters in Admiralty. Some heckled bystanders.
“You’re a traitor, a stooge,” some were heard shouting.
Yeung Kai-cheong, an anti-Leung protester, handed out black T-shirts with the words “Despair Hong Kong”. At one point, a marcher threw one of Yeung’s T-shirts to the ground and trampled on it.
Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said the march was unprecedented. He said it highlighted political polarisation in society, but added: “Our main query of Leung was his credibility. But it seems the marchers couldn’t offer any evidence to show that Leung was a credible man.”
Student group Scholarism, which previously campaigned to shelve a proposed national education curriculum in schools, staged street protests. It hung banners on a crane truck that read: “Oust Leung for democracy, regain the right for universal suffrage.”
Agnes Chow Ting, a Scholarism member, said: “We hope our system can be overhauled, taking Hong Kong onto a path of democratisation.”