July 1 march

‘We don’t want Hong Kong independence’: July 1 march organisers refuse to side with localists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 10:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 4:42pm

The organisers of yesterday’s annual Hong Kong pro-democracy rally have distanced themselves from localists advocating independence from China for the city.

Daisy Chan Sin-ying, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front which organised the march, said the group did not think that Hong Kong should seek independence.

“The front actually does not hold such a view [on Hong Kong independence],” she said during an RTHK talk show today.

She said the group, in demanding to amend the Basic Law to solve the city’s constitutional and livelihood issues, was a move that followed the “one country, two systems” framework.

“The Basic Law gives Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy except for military and diplomatic matters ... The problem is only that the central government is not implementing what is stated in the Basic Law,” she said.

“It is not that there is an urgent need for Hong Kong to seek independence.”

Chan made the remarks after a handful of localists joined yesterday’s rally, standing in front of the organisers’ “big banner” and leading the marchers at one point. The localists brandished the colonial-era Hong Kong flag, a symbol now seen as advocating independence.

She said the front was shocked by the localists’ action and its stalwarts argued with them in asking that they refrain from trying to lead the march.

The front put yesterday’s turnout at 48,000, the lowest since 2008.

Chan said the number was already better than their earlier estimates. She said a lack of burning issues after the government’s political reform package was voted down was one main reason for the low turnout.

Meanwhile, Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting believed that although the number of people joining the march had dropped, it did not mean that Hongkongers had given up their demands for democracy.

Speaking on a radio programme this morning, Tai said the timing of the march – just weeks after the rejection of the reform package and following two years of struggle for universal suffrage – had left many considering how best to continue their fight.

"There was not a clear theme [at yesterday’s march]," said Tai. "The turnout was not a small number, given that people did not have a motive to come out. The turnout means that there are still a number of people insisting to express their demands in a peaceful way."

Tai said the government should not think that the turnout meant people were satisfied. He said if the government continued to ignore people’s demands, their anger would explode in future, for example, if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying were to be reappointed for another four years.

"If Leung were reappointed, that would definitely be a tragedy," he said.