About 300,000 revellers turned out on the streets to see Hong Kong's New Year fireworks, while supporters of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement marked the festivities by releasing 500 yellow balloons at the Times Square mall in Causeway Bay. The supporters handed out leaflets to tourists, local residents and passers-by underneath the clock tower - one of the areas where high-profile "shopping" protests were also planned. The mall had cancelled its traditional ball-drop countdown and replaced it with another event, but did not say if the change was in anticipation of possible demonstrations. As part of peaceful activities, the Occupy supporters encouraged people to post their wishes on the "Lennon Wall", which featured the face of the famous Beatle. The wall is a spin-off from the massive, colouful Lennon Wall that adorned the side of the government headquarters when protesters barricaded roads in Admiralty. Under the watchful eye of thousands of police officers, fireworks and artificial snow effects lit up the skies over Victoria Harbour in an eight-minute show as the clock struck midnight. In Lan Kwai Fong, revellers released balloons into the air and shouted “Happy New Year”. Watch: Hong Kong skyline lights up to celebrate the New Year For the first time, a countdown was held at Park Lane Shopping Boulevard on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and at the Observation Wheel near the Central ferry pier. Times Square and Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui had called off their countdowns – apparently over security concerns following Occupy. On the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, the crowd was in festive mood for the fireworks, although there were jeers when the big screen feed panned to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. There were protests outside the IFC Mall in Central, where about 25 people lay on the ground at 10pm and displayed banners with slogans in support of democracy and condemning police. They departed after about 10 minutes, when police arrived. One of the Causeway Bay organisers, activist Steven Kwok Wing-kin, 28, the Labour Party's general secretary, said the balloon release reflected their hope for genuine democracy. I know it's rather impossible but I do hope to see less conflicts in Hong Kong or the wider world Jay Wai, hair stylist "Yellow is the colour of the whole movement ... [symbolising] our wish of universal suffrage," Kwok said. However, retired worker Amy Hung said she did not understand why the youth were discontented. "I hope teenagers will cherish what we have got today. The degree of freedom in Hong Kong is quite high already. Why are they still not happy? I don't understand," she said. In Mong Kok, the site of one of Occupy's former strongholds, Hongkonger Jay Wai, 31, a hair stylist who has been working in Australia for five years, said the turmoil made him stay away from the city as much as possible. "I know it's rather impossible but I do hope to see less conflicts in Hong Kong or the wider world the coming year. But I don't see any solution and the difference between us and [mainlanders] are so big. It will take time," he said. Politics is still high on Hongkongers’ minds as they enter the New Year, a survey shows. New Year’s wishes related to politics have surpassed those about personal health, economic growth and livelihood issues for Hongkongers after the city saw a year of conflict over constitutional reforms and a marathon Occupy protest that made world headlines. According to a survey of New Year’s wishes by the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) public opinion programme, 17.4 per cent had political themes. Health, which was the most common wish last year, came second at 16 per cent, followed by world peace (13.7 per cent) and livelihood (12.1 per cent). As thousands of people flooded to the Central promenade to wait for the countdown to 2015 amid a carnivalesque atmosphere, university student Jacky Chan said his one wish was for suffrage to be allowed. "I want a genuine universal suffrage and civic nomination [for the 2017 chief executive election]," he said. "I don't want to see the nomination committee to pick only three candidates." Ms Fong, who brought along her five-year-old son, said she wanted a more harmonious Hong Kong after the Occupy movement, which ended in mass arrests and the destruction of protest barricades earlier this month. "The government should listen to the public's views more." In Kowloon, Ms Mak, 75, a street cleaner, said: "I hope there'll be no more age discrimination and everyone who is able to work, no matter how old they are, will get a job so that no one will need to live on government welfare." Mak is employed by a government sub-contractor responsible for removing bills posted on the streets of Mong Kok. I hope there'll be no more age discrimination and everyone who is able to work Ms Mak, cleaner Catherine Lam, a 50-year-old office clerk, who came to Central with her 16-year-old daughter, said: "We hope people reach a consensus [on political reform] as soon as possible. I know both sides are campaigning for a better Hong Kong in their own ways ... I just wish they can get along peacefully as soon as possible." HKU had conducted a random phone survey among 1,021 participants between December 17 and last Monday. Each person was asked to make one New Year’s wish. Analysts said the only other time politics topped the list of answers was 22 years ago. The finding came as the city concluded a year with social and political tension over electoral reforms, highlighted by an unprecedented sit-in that blocked major roads for 79 days to protest against Beijing’s restrictive framework for the next Chief Executive selection and a non-cooperation campaign on the legislature. Only 21.9 per cent of people said they were satisfied with Hong Kong’s overall development in the past year, a new low in twelve years’ time. Half (50.2 per cent) reported that they were dissatisfied – a record high proportion since 2002, a year when controversy broke out over the government’s legislative proposal on national security. Nevertheless, half of people in the survey there were in generally happy this year. Just 16.5 per cent said they were unhappy. READ MORE: Girl, 14, who drew flower on Hong Kong's 'Lennon Wall' sent to children’s home “Figures show that although people are not satisfied with Hong Kong’s development in the year past and not optimistic about the future, they are still leading a happy life,” programme director Dr. Robert Chung Ting-yiu wrote in his commentary on the findings. Looking forward to the coming year, housing (34 per cent) remained as the most important issue in citizens’ eyes – which has been the case for the past three years. This was followed by constitutional (27.4 per cent ) and economic (9.5 per cent) developments. Anthony Cheuk Ching Sze-to, 26, speaking to the Post in times Square, said he hoped the government would find a cure for the housing crisis. "All I want is a new home with my wife," he said, adding they had been married for 12 months but have been living with his parents. "I find that earning over HK$30,000 a month still is not enough and it’s difficult to buy a property. The house prices are just so high, we can’t afford a mortgage. "The government needs to bring in new measures to help first-time buyers not eligible for public housing to buy a new property in Hong Kong," he said. When asked “What kind of society would you most like Hong Kong to become?” 27.2 per cent in the HKU survey said they wanted to see a corruption-free society, followed by the choices of “a fair society” (23.3 per cent) and “a prosperous society” (22.4 per cent). The poll had a response rate of 68 per cent. The maximum sampling error of all percentages was plus or minus three percentage points at 95 per cent confidence level. All I want is a new home with my wife. The house prices are just so high, we can’t afford a mortgage Anthony Cheuk Ching Sze-to Meanwhile, in Central's rowdy party area Lan Kwai Fong, bar owners and staff had mixed views about business. Singh Manpreet, a bartender at Agave Tequila Y Comida, says he expected 20 per cent to 30 per cent more business this year. "It'll be pretty packed and hard for people to move," says Manpreet. "Last year it was crazy and we hope this year the business will be even better." But Dip Malbun, manager of Graffiti, complained that police barriers had blocked off the path to some bars. The police closed off part of D'Aguilar Street and Wellington Street around 6pm, and the same would go for Wyndham Street and Stanley Street at around 8pm. Edwin and Catherine Hui, both in their 60s and retired, said they came to Lan Kwai Fong to celebrate their 40th anniversary. "We wish to be healthy, wealthy and happy in the New Year," said Edwin Hui. "We also hope there will be fewer protests and a more stable society." Others had more specific demands. Logistics worker Tse Hoi-chuen, 35, who was with his wife and young daughter, said he hoped workers' salaries would increase. Candy Lam, who brought her three dogs to the Central promenade for the countdown, said she hoped Hong Kong would be more animal-friendly, starting with allowing pets on beaches. "I hope Hongkongers will no long discriminate against animals anymore. The government should also consider the welfare of animals and build more facility for them," she said.