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  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:58pm
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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superdx
A ballot count that did not take even a day. People of who go sign-up every day. Elderly folks who are paraded to submit their ballots with an "X". Multiple repeat submissions, not even a Google Docs spreadsheet to check for unique HKIDs. Yes, a truly trust worthy poll. 1.4 million, guaranteed unique signatures and ballots. Surprising that only a couple thousand ever march in support of the government. Where do these numbers come from!
thshk
Ironic how a group against Occupying Central is planning to Occupy Central today.
sienna.lai
Any 'official count' by the mainland authorities is already highly suspect. And combine this with the FACT that they are getting school kids (even primary age) to sign by saying that 'it is required by the Principal'. But even past all this, the campaign itself is misleading. Telling the masses that the 'Occupy Central' is a violent organization is just a plain lie. The government at it again using lies and misdirection to manipulate the masses. They have to I guess, since they are so ineffective at anything else.
I'm not sure if I'm with the Occupy Central movement (this time) yet .. But most definitely I'm Anti 'Alliance for Peace and Prosperity'. They are clearly only Beijing lapdog liars.
Dai Muff
Clowns. And the number of pro-CCP faces turning up reveal exactly WHO they are and who is supporting them. Chow started it as self-promotion but it has long since become a United Front enterprise.
""We are for democracy, too," alliance spokesman Robert Chow Yung said. "But we believe it can be achieved in a peaceful and lawful way."
And what way would that be Mr Chow? And the joke is he has expended NO energy on that but all his energy on opposing democracy.
looksawesome
CY Leung has already lost his support of the people and had to resort to getting signatures from tourists, children and office workers and bribing people to join the march with free lunch boxes.
This action that the chief executive had taken is really a stupid move, as it would only escalate the anger of the Hong Kong people.
The alliance spokesman Robert Chow Yung said. "But we believe it can be achieved in a peaceful and lawful way." - But that's what we have been doing! Yet you don't listen to the people, that's why we had to resort to Occupy Central.
jgmoreno
You forgot the thousands of clueless tourists asked in the streets to vote for something they had absolutely no idea about. Just because they read the word "peaceful" and thought it was a good cause.
Those from the mainland didn't even have a clue about the universal suffrage debate going on in Hong Kong, let alone the meaning of "Occupy Central"...
Dai Muff
This is going to be a magnificent own goal.
First, they will come nowhere close to matching the July 1st march.
Second, middle-of-the-road Hong Kong people who normally shun politics are going to freak out at seeing so many United Front supporters marching in their streets, and be driven CLOSER to Occupy Central.
Just watch.
cleareye
It is a Sunday, moron, that would not paralyze the business district during working hours.
whymak
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the biggest liar of them all?
Dai Muff
The irony is that nothing will galvanise HK people towards Occupy Central more than seeing CCP supporters marching in Hong Kong's streets.

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