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NEW YEAR

Hongkongers hope for peace in 2013 after year of scandal

Common ground between people and government near top of wish lists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 12:23pm
 

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Common ground, peace and freedom of speech and assembly are what many Hongkongers are wishing for in 2013 after a tumultuous year of scandals, controversy and political rhetoric.

"We need to find common ground between the people and the government," said Rockson Chan Lok-sang, a 21-year-old architecture student who was counting down at Times Square with over 100,000 people.

Police estimated that more than 320,000 celebrated around the city.

"Everyone can express their opinion but in a more gentle way," said Gloria Chung Yin-nga, a 30-year-old working in logistics. "I think nowadays people seldom listen to each other. Not just the political parties, but the public.

"I don't want to see us lose our freedom of speech or assembly, and I hope we can express our opinions freely."

Gallery: how the rest of the world welcomed 2013

In Tsim Sha Tsui, people gathering to watch the fireworks had similar views. "I want Hong Kong to keep its edge, free from mainland interference," said Shirley Lee Yin-yee, who was with her photographer boyfriend.

The economy, property prices, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's integrity, the environment and government responsiveness to public opinion were all on the public's list for improvement in 2013.

Gustov Lau said problems with housing and welfare were too obvious to be missed.

Dozens of amateur photographers braved the chilly winds from early evening to get a good spot as the Observatory recorded a minimum of 7.1 degrees Celsius yesterday, trumped only by the 6.8 degrees in 1983 and equalling the 7.1 degrees in 1887.

"It's my third New Year's [eve] taking pictures here," said university student Ivan Chan, who waited in Tsim Sha Tsui from 4.30pm. He said the new location - moved from Central to Wan Chai - provided more of a challenge to photograph.

"In the past I needed only to focus on one building [IFC 2]; this year I need to take care of the Convention Centre as well as nearby buildings."

The display was moved after IFC developer Sun Hung Kai Properties withdrew funding. This year the government and the Jockey Club added HK$1.5 million each to the Tourism Board's HK$5.5 million while New World Development covered the balance of the HK$12 million cost.

Video: Hong Kong celebrates 2013

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