Friday, November 27, 2015   

500,000 show anger at 'stubborn' rulers

Paris Lord and Cannix Yau

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Hundreds of thousands of people marched though the streets of Hong

Kong Island yesterday in an outpouring of frustration and anger on a

scale not seen since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The massive crowd, estimated by organisers at up to 500,000, jammed

main roads from Victoria Park to Government Headquarters in Central

for more than six hours, chanting slogans including "Down with Tung

Chee-hwa" and "Return rule to the people".

A spokesman for the organisers, Richard Choi, told thousands of

protesters in Victoria Park: "We have had enough."


Choi, of the Alliance Against Article 23 and the Civil Human Rights

Front, added: "We choose to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the

handover to show that Hong Kong people are no longer silent and

blindly tolerant."

Tung said in a statement issued by his office later that he understood

the people's concerns and their economic "pain", but insisted that

the government's stance on human rights and freedoms was the same as


The size of the march, which started at Victoria Park at 3pm and

lasted until 9.30pm, far eclipsed earlier estimates of 50,000 to


Police admitted having difficulty getting an accurate figure, but put

the number that passed Government Headquarters after 6pm at 350,000.

The last marchers did not leave Victoria Park until 8.30pm.

Although the march had been organised to protest against the imminent

passage of the Article 23 anti-subversion law and came just a week

before the proposed ordinance goes to the Legislative Council it was

clear the frustrations went beyond that. Some protesters said they

were tired of being ignored by the government, some blamed it for

soaring unemployment and others demanded an independent inquiry into

the handling of the Sars outbreak.

Speaking outside Causeway Bay's Regal Hotel nearly three hours into

the march, housewife Amy Siu, 50, said people were "frustrated" with

the "stubborn" Tung administration.

"They make decisions that are good for the government, or good for

Beijing, but not for the Hong Kong people," she said. "It seems the

government doesn't listen to other voices. Even though we're marching

today, they won't listen."

Several hundred metres behind Siu, secondary school teacher Oscar Tse

_ who marched with his parents in 1989 said he disapproved of the

current political system. "I'm marching because the government does

not represent the people," the 29-year-old said as three helicopters

hovered above. "My wife and friends from church are also marching,

and my mum will start marching after work, because of Article 23."

In his statement, Tung said: "We will continue to actively maintain

and protect human rights and freedoms and to gradually develop

democracy in accordance with the Basic Law." He also reiterated the

government's stance that the subversion law would not affect present

rights and freedoms.

He called on Hong Kong people to show the unity they had shown in

fighting the Sars outbreak to rebuild the economy "as soon as


But barrister-legislator Audrey Eu said if the government continued to

ignore people's voices and go ahead with the Article 23 legislation,

it showed "the government is really hopeless".

From early morning, protesters began packing into Victoria Park's

grass and bitumen squares, separated by barricades from a football

festival celebrating six years of the SAR.

Each time lion dances began on the festival stage, the protesters

jeered, whistled and roared, trying to drown out the music. Oblivious

to the mass of black T-shirt clad protesters surrounding them, scores

of elderly women in bright pink T-shirts and hats line-danced slowly

near the stage.

On the other side of the barricades, many young women held

battery-operated fans to their faces, trying to beat the 32-degree


Among them was Ms Chan, an executive secretary with a Sha Tin-based

multinational company. "I'm here for freedom of news and freedom of

speech," the 31-year-old said. "If it's the end of media freedom in

Hong Kong, it's the end of Hong Kong."

Some protesters sang along to a Cantonese version of We Shall Overcome

and other folk songs.

Placards and stickers showed why people marched. "We love our

country, we love Hong Kong, we love freedom of speech," one said.

Stickers on chests read: "No rushed laws" and "We deserve better."

Engineering graduate Kevin Ngai, 23, held up a T-shirt reading: "Mr C

H Tung step down please."

Ngai, who will start job-hunting this month, said he wanted the next

Chief Executive to be directly elected.

One marcher, Stanley, who declined to give his surname, said: "On

June 4, we loved our country and went to support it. Now, we're angry

with the government. It's not the Article 23 problem, it's the

process. The government did not listen to the people."

The people of Hong Kong have spoken.

The question now is whether the Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, and

his administration will listen.

Despite the heat, as many as 500,000 people from all walks of life

took to the streets yesterday to say they have had enough.

These were not people just out for a walk in the sunshine, as our

Secretary for Security, Regina Ip, so contemptuously indicated last


These are people who are concerned about their future and the future

of Hong Kong.

At the centre of their anger is the way the administration has pushed

the anti-subversion legislation that is to be enacted under Article 23

of the Basic Law, legislation that many fear will limit the rights of

people living in Hong Kong.

But yesterday's demonstration is more than a protest against Article


It is a vote of no confidence in Tung and his administration.

Six years since the handover of sovereignty, Tung has lost credibility

in the eyes of the people of Hong Kong.

Not since the dark days of June 1989, when more than one million

people took to the streets following the Tiananmen Square massacre,

have we seen such an outpouring of frustration and anger.

Tung may dismiss yesterday's demonstration as an example of the "one

country, two systems" working, but he will be missing the point.

Since the handover, the people of Hong Kong have watched as their

overall standard of living deteriorated in a city that Tung likes to

refers to as "Asia's World City", a "world city" where

unemployment is now at record levels.

For many people of Hong Kong, the future is clouded in uncertainty.

Even the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement may not provide the

security many had initially hoped the agreement would bring. In short,

Tung has failed to produce anything of substance and the people have

had enough. They said so yesterday, loud and clear.

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