Organisers deny week-long discount scheme aimed at diverting people from July 1 march
Nearly 1,000 shops and restaurants will offer discounts in the week leading up to July 2 under a programme organised by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce that straddles the handover anniversary.
However, the discount scheme brought accusations that it was an effort to divert people away from the annual July 1 protest march.
One of the organisers responded that critics should not "overthink it."
The chamber announced yesterday that it would bring together more than 70 companies, involving nearly 1,000 shops and restaurants, to offer special deals from Thursday next week until the following Wednesday.
Restaurant chain Pier 88 will offer dim sum for HK$1 each morning during the period.
Prince Jewellery and Watch will be offering 20 per cent off selected items, while the electronic appliance chain Broadway plans to offer 10 to 15 per cent off selected items.
Johnson Yeung Ching-yin, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front which organises the July 1 march, said the discount scheme was an effort to divert attention from the march.
But the chamber's liaison committee chairman, Tommy Li Ying-sang, told critics not to suspect political motives. "Don't overthink it. We just want Hongkongers to enjoy the special deals," he said.
Chamber chairman Charles Yeung said the value of retail sales in April dropped 9.8 per cent year on year to HK$38.8 billion, and 9.5 per cent in volume. "We hope that we can all work together and consolidate growth of the tourism and retail sector … to cheer up the retail sector and to let the public have fun," Yeung said.
The one-day discounts on July 1 last year were organised by pro-Beijing executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Celebrations Association.
Despite his concern about political motives, Johnson Yeung said he was not worried that the turnout for the march would be affected. He was confident that the recent eruption of grievances about Beijing's white paper on Hong Kong would drive many people to join the march.
The white paper emphasised Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong and said its autonomy was subject to Beijing's authority.