Hongkongers can't be bought, July 1 march organiser says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 5:33am

Shopping discounts and a concert planned for July 1 will not affect turnout for the holiday's annual protest march because Hongkongers' desire for universal suffrage cannot be bought, the march's organiser has said.

Jackie Hung Ling-yu, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, said she is not worried about the impact on turnout.

"There are obviously political motives behind [the concert and shopping discounts]. They are trying to especially draw the attention of teenagers away," Hung said.

The pro-government Hong Kong Celebrations Association, which is chaired by executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, has organised for 1,000 shops and restaurants to offer special discounts on July 1, which is next Monday.

Businesses taking part include second-hand bag retailer Milan Station, herbal tea specialist Hoi Tin Tong and Macau's Koi Kei bakery, which will offer discounts of up to 50 per cent or other special offers between 2pm and 5pm.

Meanwhile, the Performance Industry Association is organising a music festival featuring popular local bands such as Mr. and RubberBand. Major property developers are sponsoring the event and the price of a ticket is just HK$99.

Association chairwoman Florence Chan said the fact the concert would clash with the march had not crossed her mind.

Hung said the event was apparently an effort to keep people away from the march, but she was confident such tactics would not work.

"The social grievance this year is pretty much as bad as in 2003. Hong Kong people need to take to the street to force CY to step down," Hung said, referring to the record turnout of 500,000 for the July 1 march of 2003.

Hung said she did not yet have an estimated turnout figure for next Monday's march but that "it could be higher than the previous years".

Cheng said on a television show that his association is organising the shopping day so that everyone can celebrate the 16th year since the handover. The aim is not to draw attention away from the march, he said.

When asked why the discounts had to be offered at the time of the march, Cheng said: "[The businesses] need to take the costs into consideration. It's the time they chose."

The marchers will set off from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 2.30pm. They will march along Yee Wo Street to Hennessy Road before finally arriving at Central's Statue Square, where they will stage an assembly.

Organisers of the Occupy Central movement, including University of Hong Kong associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, will be invited to talk about the civil disobedience campaign at the gathering in Statue Square.