• Thu
  • Nov 27, 2014
  • Updated: 5:24pm
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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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.
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.
johnyung
Hong Kong has the luxury now still to study all the good and bad things in other democratic countries yet we are doing nothing about it. We will end up with government that is either completely ineffective or just serving a few small groups.
blue
Indeed. But things won't get any better until the points johnyung raised are taken seriously.
johnyung
Universal Suffrage is good and a big step since most Western countries including the US and UK doesn't have that. US President is elected by the Electoral College system where a President can win without winning the popular vote and in UK where the the Prime Minister is chosen by the controlling party of Parliament. Even in Taiwan while the President is chosen base on one person one vote the Legislative Council, additional seats are granted to political parties base on the number of seats they hold, diluting the independent and minority parties seats.
So after talking about Universal Suffrage for 20 years, there still no proposal for what type of democratic government we will have and how to ensure to prevent the problems of other democratic governments. i.e., control of politics by a few parties where they vote base on party line vs what the people that vote them in wants. Using the power and resources of political parties to block minority and independents to compete using billions of dollars in campaign money and start campaigning for the next election the moment election ends instead of doing work. Pass laws on behalf of high contributors and then hiding the bills in completely unrelated bills so that no one knows with out a detail understanding of the systems. Allow lobbying as a legal way of buying votes for a minority group with money or passing laws that a small group using the media while good for votes but bad for the future of society. What is the plan?
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.
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?
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.
johnyuan
Precise and concise. Very helpful in understanding about what HK is.
I can’t help but to add that HK has inherited the political and economical system from the British colony rule designed uniquely for Hong Kong. The system rewards those in power at the expanse of those who don’t. All done through self-serving ‘law and order’. Clever, but devious and vicious.
laurencecheukyingrahamwells
Perhaps you are forgetting, China has been denying us one vote per person since 1997, and has shown no sign of giving us that. Demonstrating is one way of communicating our disapproval at our treatment. Dialogue can go nowhere until the Chinese officials can acknowledge our rights to determine our leaders. Clearly they do not, for if they do, every part of China will want to follow suit, and they will lose absolute power. They don't want to lose absolute power. They will not willingly give it up. We can negotiate and negotiate, but they will not budge. Alas, I honestly don't know what else to do. As long as they maintain absolute control, there can be no true democracy.

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