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  • Apr 21, 2014
  • Updated: 11:22pm

July 1 march

The annual July 1 march in Hong Kong marks the handover of the British colony to Beijing that took place in 1997. The  peaceful demonstration has become a rallying point for pro-democracy activists. The march captured the public's attention in 2003, when half a million marched, angered by proposed national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law.

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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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.
shouken
Johnyuan had it entirely right. Even the US does not really have universal suffrage in the sense that popular vote does not always determine who wins the presidency, and what seems to be a landslide win or loss hardly reflects the scene in popular vote.
Moreover, what is good for one region may not suit the welfare of another region that bears a whole different set of conditions and circumstances. Democracy is no panacea for the social ills that plague every socieity on earth. I am very skeptical that a Pan-dem Chief Executive will bring unprecedented harmony and well-being to the multitudes in HK. The allure of the ritual facade (one-man-one-vote) will dissipate quickly, and endless in-fighting among different interest groups will likely ensue.
lucifer
You dunce, that is because there are 300 million people. Each state elects (notice I said State as in Country) the president, the popular vote is tallied and the state sends the electroal college dlegates to vote for the winner. The system was deisgned to deal with the situation 250 years ago, but more importantly, to prevent the larger and more popular states from always dominating the vote. Thus, the US is a republic not a democracy, but both are built on the same principles of one person, one vote.
Hong Kong has 7 million people...you are basically electing a mayor....to do anything other that direct voting would be an attempt to undermine democratic principles.
johnyuan
shouken, let me reprint the following. It seems it will do what you expected of me:
In my view, there are two situations which when we use politics. When we deprive of something or there is something insufficient to be shared. The former we see how revolutions make history. The latter takes place everyday. Everyone would like a raise at work. Besides hard work, office politics is just if not more important. The annual protest march in Hong Kong is becoming a mixture of the two kinds. The government and political heavyweights shouldn’t mistake the protestors of their truly need. For those marchers who are less articulate they may carry or shout a simple slogan – "universal suffrage". They are thinking it would bring changes for a fair shot what Hong Kong can offer them. Respect their aspiration but mistaken not of their limited articulation. When livelihood improves we may see fewer in the streets next year. Of course, there are those insist on that all ills in Hong Kong would vanish if there is universal suffrage. I don’t. Democracy? Fine but which form? What are the details?
likingming
A religious gathering ?
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.
Dai Muff
We are ALWAYS affected by politics, since we first crawled out of caves. There is no reason why Chinese are the only people in the world too dumb to vote in their own best interests. We manage it perfectly well in Taiwan. No system is perfect. Only one allows you to get rid of bad governments peacefully and without violence. We have as much right to it as anyone else does. And i'm sorry, but fools have been saying the HK Chinese have not been "ready for politics" a lot longer than 16 years. We had, because we needed, a Communist revolution in China. That was politics too, believe it or not.
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 ! )
johnyuan
Your judgments are sound. I will add that those who use the annual protest occasion to oppose CY Leung are purely a political move to insult him. It is almost laughable. Their wish will not come true -- this time; because Leung is different and doing fine in his first year in office.
aarondotpang
Seriously, people in Hong Kong should just turn their negativity into something positive for the society. Society is not perfect and we should all work with the government towards a common vision for the better of our society.

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