By Henry Williams.
Ahead of a New Year’s Day anti-China protest, Pro-CY Leung marchers have been out in force in Hong Kong. Chinese and Hong Kong SAR flags were in-hand despite relatively cold weather in the city.
Police reported that 2,400 participants showed up today, while organisers said the number was nearer 40,000*.
The South China Morning Post said the majority of attendees were “predominately elderly and middle-aged people”. Still, violence managed to break out before the march even began, with reporters and cameramen suffering minor injuries at the hands of demonstrators in Victoria Park.
Attendees wanted the government to focus on welfare issues:
A Leung supporter, retiree Liu Shing, called on pan-democrats to stop magnifying trivialities, saying on Sunday: “The government should focus on solving social issues.”
Another marcher, Jenny Lam, said: “I want a harmonious society, but politicians did everything to stop the government from functioning properly out of their own interest. This is intolerable.”
Anti-government protestors also attended today’s march, waving the flag of British Hong Kong and shouting at the pro-establishment demonstrators from streets surrounding the rally.
The weakened Chief Exeuctive, who has been fighting for his political life almost since he walked through the door in July, has been facing calls to resign after endless apologies and 10 admissions of negligence over illegal structures at his property (the matter, though somewhat frivolous by mainland corruption standards, is particularly poignant in Hong Kong as a similar scandal scuppered the electoral hopes of Leung’s main competitor for the Chief Executiveship, Henry Tang).
The SCMP says that at a recent Legislative Council, Leung dodged questions over whether he had a 2,000 square foot basement at his residence. When you consider that entire average apartments for well-off families in the city aren’t much bigger than a quarter of that, you might be right to think he deserves everything he gets.
Civil Human Rights Front, organizers of the planned anti-establishment march on New Year’s Day, strongly oppose what is known as Article 23 – essentially an all-seeing subversion law that they believe can be used to put down any organisations that oppose the government. They expect over 50,000 to come out in protest on Tuesday.
Their’s is not the only march on Tuesday, with the Voice of Loving Hong Kong, a pro-establishment group, expecting 1,000 people to turn up for its carnival on the same day.
*Imprecise numbers are nothing unusual in Hong Kong – the science (art?) of counting crowds has been part of protests here for decades. Crowd counting is taught at the main university, and even has articles written about it.