In an outpouring of patriotism at Victoria Park yesterday the debate over Article 23 was narrowed down to one issue - love of one's country. Some of those joining the rally in favour of national security laws confessed they found the debate too deep but felt they were obliged to show their support when it came to defending the country's well-being. 'I don't fully understand the issue but I think we have a responsibility to protect the country,' said a student. The key slogan 'national security - everyone's responsibility' was echoed repeatedly throughout the 90-minute gathering. The 27 Beijing-friendly groups who organised the event had been hoping to attract 10,000 supporters, but turnout escalated to an estimated 40,000, with 1,500 groups taking part. Victoria Park was turned into a sea of flags as chartered coaches unloaded scores of people, covering three football pitches. There were roars of approval as celebrities, war veterans and singers made patriotic speeches and broke out into nationalist songs on a video-walled stage covered in festive decorations and sound equipment. To quell speculation that many of those joining in had been lured with the promise of free lunches after the rally finished, Executive Councillor Tsang Yok-sing said: 'Look at our unity. Will people still believe that we were forced or being paid to attend? 'We don't have abusive slogans. We are here not to provoke confrontation or reject dissenting views. We have a simple consensus. It's everyone's duty to defend national security.' But despite these sentiments, some people carried placards attacking the pro-democracy camp for opposing security laws. Rural representatives won rounds of applause when the audience heard they had broken off from their traditional winter festival celebrations to show their support. Students sang Below the Lion Rock while youth groups chanted slogans in support of legislation. And in the sheltered harbour near Victoria Park, fleets of fishing boats arrived from Western to back the cause. To complement the government's publicity efforts, the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong published a 50-page booklet containing 70 questions and answers about the Article 23 proposals. Police were almost invisible during the rally. Organisers said they had received no verbal warning from officers for under-estimating the turnout. Organisers of last week's rally against the security laws got in trouble with the police for predicting a turnout of 5,000. In the event, up to 60,000 people joined the march from Victoria Park to the Central Government Offices.