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  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:08am
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

XYZ
The problem is that the government evidently does not want to work with us; it just wants us to "tremble and obey", which ain't gonna happen.
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?
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.
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.
ubifrancehk
"An ineffective government serving a few small groups", a very apt description of the current system !
blue
Indeed. But things won't get any better until the points johnyung raised are taken seriously.
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
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?

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