Government supporters have begun a rally outside the Legislative Council building as debate continues inside over the political reform package. Hundreds of people gathered as Robert Chow Yung, leader of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, kicked off the rally just before 6pm today with harsh words for pan-democrats – including those standing just metres away staging their own protest. “These clowns can stop Hong Kong's democracy for a few moments or so, but they cannot stop China’s great wheel of democracy from moving on,” Chow said. “We will have universal suffrage ... eventually.” He and his supported took over half the square outside Legco, while pan-democrats, fiercely opposed to a reform package they say represents “fake democracy”, gathered in the other half. Just fences and a 1.5 metre buffer zone separated the two sides. As the rally began, some on the pan-democratic side created ear-splitting noise using microphones and loudspeakers, forcing some government supporters to step back from the buffer area. Pan-democrats will begin their own rally at 8pm tonight. People on both sides had sporadically hurled abuse throughout the day. At about 5pm, a group of government supporters wearing numbered jerseys fanned out from the corner they were gathered in and from Tamar Park to fill their half of the square. Many opened the identical grey umbrellas they were carrying to block out the sun, forming a sea of umbrellas. Another group of men, wearing jeans and numbered caps but not the T-shirts, also lined up. None would explain the significance of the numbers they were wearing. While lawmakers and journalists listened intently to senior officials’ speeches on political reform earlier in the afternoon, those rallying for and against the package did not consider them a big deal. About 100 pro-government protesters stayed in a covered area of a square outside Legco as the officials spoke, while several government supporters took turns to take pictures in front of a video screen showing a live broadcast of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s speech. The screen continued to show the first 10 minutes of Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit’s speech before switching to play patriotic songs in Putonghua. Pan-democratic groups at the entrance to the square set up loudspeakers to broadcast the lawmakers’ speeches. As Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king rose to speak, a host told the crowd: “Let us also listen to the pro-establishment camp’s rationale for supporting the reform package.” However, the pro-government groups showed little interest in the remarks from Lee or her fellow Beijing loyalist Wong Kwok-hing, of the Federation of Trade Unions. Meanwhile a succession of district councillors braved the scorching sun to give scathing speeches, accusing pan-democrats of “ignoring public opinion” with their vow to vote down the package. “Pan-democrats are so stubborn ... They are simply anarchists,” yelled one district councillor, who did not give his name. Wearing numbered jerseys, about 200 middle-aged men and women, most speaking Putonghua among themselves, have been sitting in the shade at Tamar Park for much of the day. “We are waiting for instruction from the stage,” said one man, who declined to give his name. He appeared to be the only few among them who understood Cantonese. Asked in Putonghua how they would show support for the government’s reform proposal, a man responded: “We were only told to come to show our support.” Executive Council member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun briefly attended the rally, and condemned the pan-democrats for acting as mere “politicians”. “Politicians are only concerned about themselves, but statesmen are concerned about the next generation,” she said. While many democracy supporters donned black clothing, government supporters favoured white. Many members of the international media also set up outside Legco to cover the rally and the reform debate.