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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 5:54pm
July 1 march
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

March sees storm clouds gather for CY Leung

As city marks the 16th anniversary of handover, protesters defy rain to demand full democracy and urge beleaguered chief executive to resign

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 2:12pm
 

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets yesterday, braving heavy rain to demand universal suffrage and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying a year after he took office.

The annual July 1 march was matched by a string of events to celebrate the 16th year of Chinese rule, making it one of the most polarised and divided handover anniversaries in the past decade.

An hour into the march, scuffles broke out between police and protesters near the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay.

With protesters making slow progress, some tried to cross into the eastbound lane of Hennessy Road, while others tried to join the march there rather than at Victoria Park. Protesters removed police barricades and officers led away several demonstrators before eventually opening a short eastbound section.

A member of the student group Scholarism, Ivan Tan Yi-chun, said police hoped to force people to leave the march by refusing to open up more lanes. "Fortunately, they failed. No one left, not even in the rain," he said. Organisers said 430,000 people took part, compared to 400,000 last year. Police said 35,500 left Victoria Park and 66,000 participated at its peak. Paul Yip Siu-fai, a statistician at the University of Hong Kong, estimated the turnout at 103,000 based on an on-site count. The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme put the figure at 93,000.

Pro-government groups, meanwhile, said up to 225,000 people joined their events in all 18 districts. Police said 1,500 joined the two-hour celebration at Tamar Park at its peak.

About 18,000 youngsters also attended a concert that featured Korean pop stars at Kai Tak.

An hour before the 2.40pm start of the march, the Observatory hoisted the No.3 typhoon signal as Severe Tropical Storm Rumbia neared the city.

But the march - hailed by Beijing's top official in Hong Kong as evidence that the city's freedoms had been maintained - showed little sign of being affected. It took six hours for the tail to arrive at Chater Garden. Amid an array of demands - from gay rights to animal rights - most protesters shared common causes, waving flags that read "Occupy Central" and chanting slogans including "Down with C.Y.".

March organiser the Civil Human Rights Front  held a rally at the finishing point until 9.20pm in a gesture of support for the Occupy Central plan, scheduled for July next year as a last push for democracy.

University of Hong Kong law academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who proposed the act of civil disobedience, said: "Today's challenge … is whether you are willing to go beyond yourself and pay [a price for democracy]." Pan-democratic lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the anger and discontent directed at Leung was unprecedented. "We will not tolerate him for four more years," Lee said. "He has done nothing in democratic reform, and made a mess of livelihood issues."

The chief executive said the government would listen carefully to the various demands aired during the march. "We still have plenty of time to launch the consultation on the methods of the 2017 chief executive election and the constitutional procedures will be initiated at an appropriate juncture," he said.

Ahead of the march, central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming said what the city needed was "peace, rationality and positive energy". He said: "[The fact] so many people take to the streets illustrates that Hong Kong enjoys sufficient rights and freedom under 'one country, two systems'."

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong said the marchers' calls for the early introduction of universal suffrage and their show of discontent were "facts" that must be addressed.

Lam said universal suffrage would break the deadlock between the executive and the legislature which angered the public and made it difficult for the administration to win support for policies to deal with problems that were urgent.

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This article is now closed to comments

carmeledwin
With a democratic society, everyone has the right to express their opinions and be heard. Unfortunately in Hong Kong, although the people are saying that they want democracy, they seem to have no idea as to what democracy is, they call people "fools" whose opinion is not the same as theirs. I have been call a fool by someone on Facebook yesterday, and twice been told to shut up. Is that democracy? I am afraid this is the same kind of behaviour if dictators such as Joseph Stanley, Mao Tse Tung, and Hitler, shutting up opposite voices. There can be no democracy if Pan-democratic cannot accept the fact that people are entitle to express their opinions.
John Adams
Johnyung makes some very good points.
As Alex Lo wrote yesterday, 'Universal suffrage is a not a panacea for everything"
And as the old saying goes " be careful what you wish for"
I deliberately did not march yesterday because I believe CY deserves a chance, and he's had to spend most of his first year addressing the mass of problems left over by Donald Tsang, who far from "getting the job done" only made things worse in HK, leaving CY with an even bigger job to get done.
CY is certainly not perfect , but he's lot more competent than anyone else who was able to stand for CE last year.
I shudder to think what yesterday's march would have been like if we had had Henry Tang running HK for one year ( probably a police-counted 500,000 ! )
johnyung
With out a proper discussion on the democratic system we are just trading a system at least looks at the benefit of society in the long term base and replace a system that is always looking for short term gains in term of votes yet harmful to society. We already see the changes as the present system is reacting to what the media report with no thoughts of future as they are preparing for free votes. We should not be asking the government to propose but political parties to propose an universal suffrage base democratic system. The government is there to execute the laws propose by legislative council elected by the people, the chief executive is to make sure the government to do just that yet balance it with suggestions from the government to make it workable. The Chief Executive also plays a role to explain the will of the Hong Kong people to Beijing but pass on well thought out laws that will serve the society of Hong Kong not because it will help win election because some influential group spend lots of money campaigning and using the media to report to seems like a lot of people wants it. Hong Kong is part of China so realistically it has to also take into the consideration of the nation too. We have seen what happens in US when States pass law that doesn't meet the requirement of the Federal Government, even with one country two systems you still have to be mindful of the country part. If we don't plan carefully we end up with all the wrong things in a democratic country
jaminhard
Politics in Hong Kong is only 16 years old. A mere teenager.
For many decades, Hong Kong worked happily without politics. Times were good, and people worked hard alongside each other, quite happy with their lot. The place worked.
All of a sudden, people 'think' they want / deserve / are ready for the vote.
What started off as simply a very wary eye (and backlash) on any subtle oppression by Beijing, has morphed into people believing that we are suddenly a democracy.
Universal suffrage? With that, we can only look forward to a Hong Kong consumed in petty bickering and arguing. Baby politics driven by uncovering ghosts in the closets of every politician no matter how elected. Ghosts which are the reminants of an era just 16 years ago, when by hook or by crook, things got done. Things worked.
We need a generation of politicians to pass, before we will be happy with any politician here. Before, a universal vote will work.
We are not ready for the universal vote, unfortunately.
ubifrancehk
"An ineffective government serving a few small groups", a very apt description of the current system !
tomonday
marching and protesting are all good for those who were there, have nothing against you, but please don't accuse those who were on the side and did not participate. was in a hotel and witnessed marchers and organizers accusing businesses of discriminating them for not opening up facilities to accommodate their needs, how uncivilized is that. what has gone into your mind? are you so angry that you think everyone is against you?
ghrt8
Hundreds of thousands?
caractacus
No progress towards giving power to HK people to elect and choose their own leaders and legislators will be made unless and until the crony system of patronage by the Chief Executive and other senior officials is ended. They and their appointees are the ones who are denying proper rights to HK citizens because they benefit from the present, rotten political system which maintains an unequal economic oligarchy over HK. What we have now is some functional constituency Legco members and some Exco members who are only there to serve their own and their lobbies' interests. The political and economic system is riddled with corruption at the top, pervaded by a squalid parcel of position seekers and downright crooks. ICAC what have you become?
HKSandyGray
I strongly support the right of my fellow citizens, the people of Hong Kong to protest on July 1st in order to fully maintain their rights, freedom of speech, thought and action, as Hong Kong citizens, as agreed and enshrined in law in the Basic Law agreement with Beijing.
I will be furious if any person in the protest is treated with malice or in harmed in any way.
Hong Kong is a civilized society with traditions enshrined in law that prevent Beijing or other nasty elements within our society, outside it or on mainland China from withholding the progress that our people have fought so hard, down through the ages to create and maintain.
Every Hong Kong citizen has the inailienable right to be considered equal with their fellow citizens of Hong Kong and the world. The world has moved on towards peace and justice. No society should be left behind in filth and squalor without basic access to the freedom that progress brings.
p.rennat
I was in Guangzhou on 1 July. There was a total news blackout about today’s events in Hong Kong. I could not get ATV or Pearl Television News because it is censored by advertisements. I could not log onto BBC or Al Jazeera because the web pages freeze. The Mainland authorities should surely know how stupid this is. Such censorship is self-destroying and non-sustainable.
I am a Hong Konger. People marching on July 1 should ask themselves why they were so quiet during Colonial times when Hong Kong was effectively a police state. Why didn’t they want democracy then? Why are they moaning now and not doing something constructive instead? It seems that many of the so-called Pro-Democracy proponents are great fans of the West. Particularly, much of the Hong Kong media is dominated by the West and it highlights political matters which are not of first importance, including antics from certain people. Remember that Hong Kong is part of China. China has let Hong Kong follow a path with more freedom for its citizens than in America or Britain. Naturally, I think one person should have one vote. Achieve that objective by logical discussion and dialogue, not by marching or occupying Central.
The democracy advocates should realize that politicians in America form a very rich hierarchy, necessary for running in an election, and that there is actually very little choice for the voters. I hope that Hong Kong can find an alternative form of democracy and patiently await this outcome.

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