March decries 'Occupy Central'

Updated: 2014-08-18 07:25

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong(China Daily USA)

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Tens of thousands call for peace and democracy during rally in Hong Kong

The majority broke their silence on Sunday as tens of thousands of people marched across the heart of Hong Kong in the afternoon to voice their aspirations for peace and democracy and denounce the opposition's advocacy of "Occupy Central".

The organizer of the march, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, estimated the turnout to be 193,000, exceeding its earlier expectation of 150,000.

The alliance's initiator, Robert Chow Yung, said the people have made their message that the "Occupy Central" campaign is unpopular with the masses and all sides should "sit down and talk" as Hong Kong formulates the setup to elect the chief executive in 2017 by universal suffrage.

"Occupy Central" is a campaign pushed by the opposition camp, which vowed to block Hong Kong's commercial hub to force authorities to accept their election reform proposals, even though the Hong Kong government had made it very clear that it will not give way to such threats.

The case against the "Occupy" campaign has picked up momentum in recent months.

More than 1.4 million people had taken part in a petition held by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy since mid-July and the rally on Sunday marked the grand finale of the one-month campaign to reject the "Occupy" threat to take the economy hostage in political bargaining.

Ralliers packed all six football fields at Victoria Park two hours before the "anti-Occupy" march was set to begin.

According to estimates of similar rallies at the venue, the six fields can hold more than 50,000 people.

People shouted slogans, such as "We are the positive energy" and "Safeguard peace, oppose 'Occupy Central'" as they marched along the tramway from Causeway Bay to Central, where they dedicated plastic flowers on Chater Road to embody their blessings for peace in Central and universal suffrage.

Marchers said they were appealing for peace amid a dividing political debate over the 2017 Chief Executive election.

March decries 'Occupy Central'

Not that the elders were left out of the event. An 88-year-old couple skipped the march under the hot sun, but they insisted on making their voices heard by dedicating flowers. "Some people are trying to mess up Hong Kong," said the man, surnamed Kan, holding onto a crutch.

Groups dominated the scene on Sunday, but there were also individuals who came out to express their sentiments. Paul Wong, a retiree, hopes to see less disruptive rallies in Hong Kong.

"There are a lot of peaceful channels to express views, such as consultation and elections," Wong said. Identifying himself as part of the silent majority, Wong felt their views have been overwhelmed by some politicians fighting merely for the so-called "moral high ground".

Patrick Lam, an engineer in his 30s, saw the current political debate as an expression of opinions without a real discussion. He urged all sides to engage in meaningful dialogue as he worried the business sector of Hong Kong might be battered by the "Occupy" campaign.

Sum Mung, owner of an interior outfitting business, was wary of the vulnerability of public security as the city makes political progress.

While he urged all sides to sit down and have a rational talk, he also agreed with a step-by-step approach to election overhaul to uphold stability.

New People Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, on the other hand, put the emphasis on the appeal for moving forward.

"It was not merely opposition of 'Occupy'," said Tien. He believes a city chief candidate running in a popular election must also meet expectations of the opposition camp.

 March decries 'Occupy Central'

Large crowds march to Central during a pro-government rally in Hong Kong on Sunday. Alex Ogle / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily USA 08/18/2014 page1)