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  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:56am
Occupy Central
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POLITICS

Hundreds join anti-Occupy Central run ahead of march

Alliance for Peace and Democracy to end month-long petition campaign with march

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 6:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 1:23pm
 

Hundreds of people joined a run through Hong Kong this morning to oppose the upcoming Occupy Central campaign - well below the 10,000 figure organisers had hoped for.

The anti-Occupy Central supporters ran from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Chater Road in Central. The Alliance for Peace and Democracy, which organised the run, will also host a march along the same route this afternoon.

A number of runners wore T-shirts sporting messages of support to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Police put the attendance figures for the run, which started at 7.30am, at 880.

Asked about the low turnout, Robert Chow Yung, spokesperson for the alliance said the figure was not important. He said he believed more people were prepared to attend the afternoon March.

“Some of those who joined the run said they were so cheeful when running in such as good weather,” Chow added.

This afternoon's march marks the end of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy's month-long signature campaign. More than 1.4 million have signed its petition, the alliance said, beating the 800,000 who voted in Occupy Central's reform poll in June.

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, now a Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee vice-chairman, yesterday became the first state-level leader to sign the petition.

Turnout today will be closely watched to gauge the level of opposition to the plan by democracy advocates to block streets in the business hub if voters do not get a range of candidates in the 2017 chief executive election.

The marchers will also be under scrutiny amid rumours some businesses have pressured staff to take part and that inducements such as free meals have been used to lure participants.

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Federation of Trade Unions and a spokesman for the alliance, predicted a turnout of 120,000 people. They will gather in Victoria Park this afternoon and head for Chater Garden in Central - the route of the annual July 1 pro-democracy march.

"We are for democracy, too," alliance spokesman Robert Chow Yung said. "But we believe it can be achieved in a peaceful and lawful way."

He dismissed reports that bosses were forcing staff to march and that mainland tourists were being mobilised to participate, describing the rumours as low-level smears.

Two teams of University of Hong Kong researchers, led by polling guru Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu and sociologist Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, have accepted the alliance's invitation to help measure attendance.

Turnout has long been a point of contention at pan-democrat rallies. For example, the organiser of the July 1 march, the Civil Human Rights Front, put turnout at over 500,000. Police said there were 98,600, while a team led by Chung put it at up to 172,000.

Today's activities begin with a morning run on the march route. From 9am to 9pm, there will be a "flower for peace and democracy" event in which people are asked to present a flower to show support for peace. There will also be live music in Central.

The campaign was given a boost yesterday when Tung, target of the city's biggest protest since the handover in 2003, signed up. He said Hongkongers wanted a "prosperous and peaceful" city and should "work together" for universal suffrage.

Labour Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he had also followed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and a host of other top officials in signing.

Ng said there were no plans to make public the signature forms the alliance had collected, citing privacy concerns.

Critics had accused the alliance of being too lax in preventing multiple signatures, as well as accepting signatures from children and non-residents.

"When we organised the signature campaign, we only asked people to sign to support our cause. We did not say that we would hand over their forms to others," Ng said.

He said it was too early to decide what the alliance would do next. "In the area of labour issues, there will still be disagreement among us, the unions, and the big bosses," Ng said.

But Brave Chan Yung, a spokesman for the march's organising committee, said: "The end of the campaign is not the end of the alliance.

"We shall be here and we shall remain prepared to fight the Occupy Central campaign. We will not stop unless the pan-democrats stop their campaign."

The march comes amid debate over the 2017 chief executive election. The poll is due to be held by universal suffrage, but democracy supporters fear the nomination process will "screen out" candidates critical of Beijing. Beijing is expected to set a framework for reform this month.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung and Jeffie Lam

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This article is now closed to comments

fmhung
This is a tragic farce that is wasting public resources.
icsl
Although I did not join the march yesterday, I fully supported Alliance for Peace and Democracy.
Unlike the pro-Occupy Central whose followers are mostly students, they can afford to protest on almost all Sundays. We the silent majority have a living to make, even on Sundays. I have signed the petition against Occupy Central to voice my stand point.
Since the organizer of Occupy Central announced their stupid idea, Hong Kong has wasted serious resources over handling unnecessary disputes. These could have been spent on productive measures, building a better Hong Kong for all.
Look at the qualities of some of our Legco members today, they are a disgrace to Hongkongers!Funded by Jimmy Lai to arouse discontent in our society, ever wonder why?
Democracy is just an excuse, not their real motive.
History will tell that the organizers of Occupy Central and the Pan-Democrats are guilty for damaging our future. Shame on you people!
johnh
you like turtles
jwee
Hundreds!!! Wow!
kctony
A few hundred? So applying Robert Chow's logic, the silent majority is actually pro-OC?
m2leung
It is a well known fact that Lai Chee Ying sponsored most of the pro-independence and extremist pro-democrat groups as well. The unaccounted millions he distributed is actually in the hands of fake pro-democrat demonstrators.
Paradox314
An organization called Hong Kong Youth Association paid protestors $250 each and bussed them in from Yuen Long today. Elsie Leung Oi-sie, ( 梁愛詩) is one of the top board members of the organization. Here's the report:
****cablenews.i-cable.com/webapps/news_video/index.php?news_id=439444
An undercover reporter managed to get an invitation and got onto the bus. She videoed the whole affair including the payment of money.
Paradox314
www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=282760651916010
scmpgt
It is difficult to believe people joined for pure patriotic reasons. Most people that support anti-occupy central have business or financial interest with the mainland.
ejmciii
And what becomes more amusing is the way that Beijing needs to bribe people to be part of their initiative. And the next time, and the next time. The down side of the rent-a-crowd game is that they do not care about you or your topic. And this is not an issue that is going to die. The morons in Beijing think that we will just accept what they say next week and just deal with it. It is not over because you bought a crowd, SFB.

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