Protesters prepare for annual New Year's Day march, this time for the elderly

By staff writer

Thousands of Hongkongers will take part in this January 1 event

By staff writer |

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Thousands of Hongkongers are expected to take part in the annual New Year's Day march, as organisers vow to fight for a universal pension scheme for the elderly, and halt construction on what they describe as the city's wasteful projects.

This year's march was initiated by some 30 civil rights groups and without the backing of major pan-democratic parties. The demonstration comes after the government consultation on the city's pension schemes. The administration appeared to oppose an option covering all retirees, even though civil rights groups have pushed for it for a decade.

Officials suggest the universal option is not financially sustainable, but march organisers argue that wasteful projects such as the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link and the Guangzhou-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, both hit by cost overruns and delays, had ruined the city's public finances and should be halted.

"Hongkongers are not [chief executive] Leung Chun-ying's ATMs," said march spokesperson Raphael Wong Ho-ming. "Leung asked us for money [for the infrastructure], but when we asked him for money to take care of the elderly, children and the disabled, he said he had none. That's shameful."

The march was to include a call for Leung, accused by organisers of failing to implement his election manifesto, to step down.

The event is scheduled to kick off in Causeway Bay at 3pm on January 1, and end at government headquarters in Admiralty.