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  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:42am
July 1 march
NewsHong Kong

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

2. The call for Leung’s resignation is well engineered but so contrived that it is a lamentable sick joke. Someone has sold the protesters tones of sentiments and they just licked them all up. If this is foretelling the degree of ability in judgment, one-person-one-vote remains just attractive as a slogan only. In fixing Hong Kong, the focus really should be on the mover and shaker and Leung is not the one, yet. Let me read a refocused SCMP?
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.
Dai Muff
The laughable thing about July 1st is watching the pro-Beijing groups, and officials, in their little protected zones, cheered on by seventy year old people bused in, trying to delude themselves and the world that they have any mandate at all in Hong Kong. Some of them don't even look convinced themselves.
HKers, what do you really want ?
Universal suffrage ? or Democracy ?
Hong Kong is CHINA Hong Kong, not Egypt Cario !
Universal suffrage is not democracy !
Democracy is "Freedom of Expression" which CHINA Hong Kong has attained already. And is the most Freedom on earth.
Dai Muff
As said earlier, ONLY democracy gives you a way to get bad governments out without violence. You really do seem to look down on your fellow citizens, while - all the while - believing you are the "sensible" exception that knows better. The aristos vs the hoi polloi. Arrogant. It might surprise and humble you to know that you are no brighter than those whose political choices you mock. That's the problem with people who support oligarchies. They just like the ones that suit them.
Please do not lump me in with people you say enjoy being on a bandwagon. I genuinely believe there is much inappropriateness in how Leung was appointed. Yes, appointed. So long as the general population did not vote for him, he was not elected. I would also like some specific examples of what Leung has actually achieved in the last year. Do not quote his own report. I want an objective analysis if there is one available. Another problem is that he has made many promises, but has yet to deliver them. I would give him an A for effort if I can see he is trying--he would be better than Obama, who only pretends!
To have a small Colonly Administered by an established and developed nation is far different than trying to run a half baked semi democratic goivernment, which must tow the line of its Authortarian masters in the North.
The CCP will avoid giving Hong Kong more political freedoms for as long as they can, with each step requiring another wait of a few more years before the next promise can go unfulfilled. Let's not forget that in 2047, the consitution that gauantees our rights will cease to exist. If things go as planned, the border will be kicked down and Hong Kong will become just another city in China.
That is if you don't do anything about it now. Before Hong Kong will be able to actually realize the full autonomy that it was gauranteed in the Basic Law, we must have leaders who represent the people's interests and who will fight for and defend Hong Kong, its way of life, its systems and its people. We must push ahead and see this through or there will be more and more delays.
If you follow China's logic, Jiang Zimin made a speach in 2004 when he essentially stated that the great grandchildren of those around today, may be able to vote for their local governors (50 years), which is essentially what we are seeking in Hong Kong now......
Chao Dao Fu,
No one is suggesting for a moment that HongKongers are too dumb to vote, or have no right to vote.
To me its a question of 'necessity' and 'readiness of culture'. What drives people to march on Victoria Park today is not 'democracy'. That's only the disguise.
Marchers march because they enjoy being 'on a bandwagon' to have a crack at the establishment, without understanding the real issues. They march to single out the governement officials, rather than inwardly looking at themselves or focus on the SAR. (It amuses me to think of all of those people who marched against CY Leung's UBWs, who had UBWs on their own rooftops!)
So long as people will push and shove to get a free drink or pack of tissues offered at a stand in the bus station, simply because its free, HongKong is not ready for one-man-one-vote.
These cultural issues are generations deep, my friend. Unfortunately, 2047 will be upon us before the culture has changed enough and before politics in the SAR have matured. Hong Kong politicians will be still spitting their dummies out, and throwing their toys out of the pram, while Beijing simply rip up the Basic Law in 2047.
That is unless, the people focus the cultural brick wall that stands in the way of meaningful governance. In one word...
1. The commentators and the street protest all focus inaccurately. The editorial wrote Leung facing bumpy road. The write ins and the protesters called for Leung’s resignation. Leung is just one year at his job and he has already done more what his predecessor had in five years or more. If there is a need to assign our city problem to a person, let us refocus. Let focus be on the property developers. They are lying quite low in fact away from public’s notice. Again, I will evoke our colonial time, that the government trained the entire society to focus on the property developers then. LKS was a role model and proudly called him a superman. Fifteen years past, I don’t think LKS likes to be called a superman anymore. He explained to the public not long ago that being pragmatic is essential to succeed. He and the rest of the property developers and heads of conglomerates choose to be quiet but still passively aggressive influencing or running Hong Kong. Public attention would be directed away from themselves but much onto those who block their interests.
A religious gathering ?



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