Cash woes may thwart organiser of July 1 rally

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2007, 12:00am

The organiser of the July 1 rally fears it may not be able to host the campaign next year due to dwindling finances.

The latest finance report on the Civil Human Rights Front shows the group raised about HK$250,000 from this year's march, barely enough to cover its costs of nearly HK$240,000.

The expenses included the cost of souvenirs, audio equipment, banners and posters, while income came mainly from souvenir sales and donations. Only two groups contributed 10 per cent of donations to the organiser as promised, the financial report showed.

With a HK$350,000 bank balance, convenor Jackie Hung Ling-yu said the group that has organised the democracy march since 2003 might not take the lead in doing so next year. She said operating costs including rent for its office of more than HK$20,000 a month would have accounted for the reserves by then.

But Ms Hung, whose term as convenor will end by September, said the July 1 march would not be affected by the group not taking the lead, and it must continue.

'People do not join the march because of the Civil Human Rights Front,' she said. 'They participate because they want to air their demands. We are just taking up the supporting role to make it run smoothly.

'Back in 2003, we were in a much worse financial condition before the march of 500,000 people. But with every party sharing the financial burden, the demonstration could come up with an extraordinary result.'

A meeting was held on Sunday by more than 20 activist groups to discuss the role of the Front in the future given its financial difficulties, but no conclusions were reached. One solution, Ms Hung suggested, was for the July 1 march to be jointly organised by different groups, with the Front remaining a platform for gathering and organising activities promoting democracy and social rights.

She said other groups had varied opinions, but they would prefer the Front to maintain its role. 'We acknowledge the financial difficulty and will sort out some measures to run the march in the long term.'

Political analyst Ma Ngok said the Front was widely seen as a platform with only limited power to mobilise the public. 'They will have to think about more activities to prevent themselves being marginalised.'

It would continue to exist if it did not organise the march, he said.

Money misery

The Civil Human Rights Front has barely enough in the bank to be able to organise next year's

pro-democracy march

The group's bank balance (in Hong Kong dollars) is $350,000