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2003-07-02 06:19:42 (UTC)

the news in hk(have to read it)

500,000 show anger at `stubborn' rulers
Paris Lord and Cannix Yau

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

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 theirs.

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 100,000.

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

``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

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 possible''.

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

On the other side of the barricades, many young women held
battery-operated fans to their faces, trying to beat the 32-
degree heat.

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 CH 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.''