Hong Kong By The Numbers
(Sing Tao via Yahoo! News)
While the National People's Congress Standing Committee is preparing to interpret the Basic Law, the Civil and Human Rights Front organized an "Anti-Interpretation" demonstration march. According to the Civil Human Rights Front, there were 1,500 persons in attendance, but the police estimated 1,000. Of the 25 Legislative Councilors in the pan-democratic camp, 40% were absent.
The demonstrators assembled in Chater Garden at 3pm, shouting slogans such as "Oppose the National People's Congress interpreting the law" and "Return political power to the people and improve people's livelihood." The organizers read out the statement to oppose the government's asking the National People's Congress to interpret the Basic Law, saying that
- the Hong Kong government ignores the voice of the people
- the Hong Kong government actively sought the central government to interfere with Hong Kong's problem
- the National People's Congress should refuse to interpret the law for the length of tenure of the Chief Executive
- the National People's Congress must not interpret in violation of the Basic Law process
- the National People's Congress must not obstruct direct elections in Hong Kong
The demonstrators set off at 4pm through Queens Road to the China's Hong Kong Liaison Office located in Sai Wan. Some citizens joined during the march. At Sheung Wan, this reporter made a rough estimate and counted more than 900 people, of which more than 200 were marching for the right to abode.
When the demonstrators reached the China Liaison Office, they punctured the black balloons handed out by the organizers to symbolize that the rule of law is dead. The organizers then handed the punctured balloons, a funeral wreath that said "The Rule of Law Is Dead" and a letter of petition to a representative of the Liaison Office. The Civil Human Rights Front then announced that there were 1,500 participants while the police reported about 1,000 participants.
The figure announced by the Civil Human Rights Front was half the 3,000 that they originally estimated. Chong Yiu-kwong, convenor of the Civil and Human Rights Front, admitted that they did not have enough publicity, but they don't blame the other democratic organizations for not doing enough. He does not believe that the smaller number means either that they are dispappointed, or that the citizens are indifferent, or that this is a "show of weakness." He believes that the problem about the interpretation of the law will take a longer time for the citizens to understand.
Technical note: The Standard cited only the 1,500 figure from the organizers, while South China Morning Post cited the police estimate as well. Both newspapers were impressed by a placard carried by a certain Matthew Ho: "Imminent interpretation of Basic Law is uglier than Camilla [Parker Bowles]!" The number of demonstrators cited by the pro-Beijing Taikungpao was 500, with only half of the pan-democratic Legislative Councilors being present.
The number of copies of the Hong Kong Basic Law set on fire by "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung in front of the China liaison office is three. To ensure that no photographers miss the photo-op, he did it three times. Two of those copies were gifts to Leung from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.
The pro-Beijing Taikungpao was not amused: "Some citizens scolded Leung Kwok-hung, but the organizers ignored their protests and told the reporters that "there is no law that says burning the <<Basic Law>> is illegal." Strike another blow for the cause of democracy!
(The Sun via Yahoo! News) The Hong Kong Research Association ran a telephone survey of 1,178 citizens on April 22-23. The survey results were:
(Ming Pao via Yahoo! News) One of the speakers before the march was Tsang Kin-sing, a former member of the Democratic Party and a current Hong Kong East district councilor. He said that he intended to organize citizens to protest the Chief Executive election on July 10, and he asked Democratic Party chairman Lee WIng-tat to withdraw from that election.
Tsang told the crowd emotionally: "The participation of the Democratic Party in the by-election is only going to help Donald Tsang and the government! Lee Wing-tat will definitely get the 100 votes for nomination, but he will only get about a dozen votes in the real election! The Democratic Party should reverse course. I will call for citizens to surround the Wai Chai Convention Center on July 10."
As noted in The Disappearance of the Shadow Cabinet, Lee Wing-tat had wanted to form a "shadow cabinet" to show the Democratic Party's governing spirit and style, but he failed even as other democrats criticized him. HK CTU's Lee Cheuk-yan refused to join the cabinet and preferred to be "permanently in the opposition," Neighborhood & Worker's Leung Yiu-chung said that "You should be afraid if I said that I want to be a department head," and Albert Cheng said "I am not qualified to be someone else's worker" ...
A democratic academician sighed and said that these democratic Legislative Councilors' words do not eliminate the citizens' opinion that the democrats "are immature and only know to oppose." It also reflected that some of the senior legislative councilors do not have the vision and strategy, being willing to remain as councilors and not working towards a democratic government. He said: "You don't set a good example, so how do you expect to persuade the citizens to support you to gain direct elections in order for you to take over the government?"
This academician said that Lee Wing-tat's entry into the election should have been a good opportunity for the democrats to step out of the role of Legislative Councilors to show their own set of policies and prove that they are capable of taking charge of the government. Intead, the recent performances and speeches of some of the democrats only convinced the citizens that the democrats are still immature.
Lee Wing-tat's response to Tsang King-sing's speech was that it was natural for differences in opinion to occur among the democrats. "The pan-democratic camp is against the 'small circle' election. But after discussion, most of them support the particpation in the Chief Executive election in order to oppose the 'small circle' election from within the system. This is strategically different from Tsang King-sing's call to boycott and protest ... but I think that boycotting is not effective."