Hong Kong had 23 per cent fewer protest assemblies and marches last year than in 2003, according to police figures. But there was still an average of three protests a day, or 1,105 for the year. This compares with 1,447 in 2003 and 1,329 in 2002. Police did not have figures on the number of people taking part in the rallies. Government officials have often seen public discontent in the form of protests as a symptom of economic problems rather than the desire for change in policies or for democratic reform. But a University of Hong Kong professor warned against citing the figures as proof that a healthier economy would mean less pressure for reform. Rowena Kwok Yee-fun, an assistant professor in the university's politics and public administration department, said the difference in the figures was not too significant and it was important to look at the type of people in the protests. 'The variety of people who have participated ... is telling of a groundswell of dissatisfaction,' Professor Kwok said. 'We have had school teachers, the elderly, political groups - so many interests in society are not being satisfied and they are having to find extra-institutional means of expressing their preferences. The picture is that across the board, a very wide variety of people are unhappy with the government.' Professor Kwok said the fall in the number of protests could also be due to the fact that there were a number of issues that brought matters to a head in 2003, such as the proposed national security law. 'People have been putting up with the failures of the government for a number of years, and in 2003 a number of issues just brought the grievances to boiling point,' she said. 'The less the need for the public to ... protest, the better. If our political institutions were sufficiently healthy, disagreements and grievances should not have to be channelled through ... protests.'