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SHAM CITY: RENT A CROWD : Police estimate more than 110,00 marchers attended anti-Occupy Central rally

Sunday, 17 August, 2014

Jeffie Lam, Nectar Gan and Gloria Chan

This afternoon the streets between Causeway’s Bay’s Victoria Park and Chater Road in Central are once again filled with demonstrators. This time it’s the turn of the anti-Occupy Central movement. Police said that 111,800 marchers left the starting point in Victoria Park, larger than their estimate of 98,600 for the July 1 rally.

Accusations have been levelled at organisers that some participants have been strong-armed into attending, while other were promised a free lunch and time off work.

This morning march organisers, Alliance for Peace and Democracy, held a run through the city which they hoped would attract 10,000 participants. Police said fewer than 900 turned out.

Follow all this afternoon’s developments at

Watch: Pro-government marchers explain why they joined anti-Occupy Central rally [1]

6.34pm: That concludes our live blog on today’s anti-Occupy Central march. Organisers Robert Chow Yung and Holden Chow Ho-ding are in Chater Garden together. They say that they don’t know how many marchers attended today’s event or when the figures will be available.

Stick with for further coverage of today’s events. We will bring you official figures on the number of marchers and more reaction as soon as we get it. Thanks for reading the blog and goodbye for now.

6.33pm: Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Federation of Trade Unions is at Chater Road. He says he feels very encouraged by the turnout today.

“I have been standing at Pacific Place to cheer marchers on from 2pm to 5:30pm,” he said. “The flow of people has been non-stop.”

Ng added that turnout was bigger than expected.

6.10pm: Organisers have announced that the march is officially finished. “Thank you for coming out today! You did a great job! Congratulations!” organisers tell the marchers as speakers blast out Queen’s We are the Champions.

One volunteer tells the Post‘s Gloria Chan that he believes the turnout was larger than organisers had expected, although no official figures are available yet.

5.49pm: Volunteer Jensen Lau (pictured) is struggling to stop thirsty marchers from taking bottles of water, which he said are reserved for workers and volunteers of the anti-Occupy Central movement.

Dozens of boxes of bottled water are piled up on Chater Road. Protesters who pass by are asking for a drink and some have managed to take a bottle from the opened boxes before volunteers could stop them.

5.30pm: Police are telling marchers to keep walking forwards past the march’s official finishing point at the HSBC Building on Queen’s Road in Central as they attempt to clear crowds.

“Keep your Hong Kong and China flags as souvenirs, don’t throw them away,” organisers tell marchers at the finishing point.

5.20pm: Parents bring their children to put red plastic flowers in “flower donation” boxes lined along Chater Road. The act is to symbolise giving flowers to peace and democracy.

However, some of the donation boxes still look a little empty:

5.05pm: A domestic helper (pictured) wearing a T-shirt with “The Federation of Fujian Association” written on the back is spotted on the march.

Although the woman appears not to understand either Cantonese or English, her employer explains that the helper accompanied her to the protest.

5.01pm: More on the egg-throwing: About a dozen counter-protesters, including member of People Power staged a rally at the mouth of Tang Lung Street in Causeway Bay, heckling anti-Occupy Central protestors marching by, who in turn booed the pro-democracy group as they spoke.

Tensions rose after an anti-Occupy protestor hurled a carton of eggs at the counter protestors. Police said no one was hurt and did not immediately arrest the man who threw the eggs. Police later added a third layer of metal barricades to separate the two groups

Speaking through a megaphone, the counter protestors compared the anti-Occupy protestors to those who took part in the 1967 leftist riots, which ended in scores injured and multiple deaths. They said they also supported non-violence and did not agree Occupy Central would turn violent.

“[Robert] Chow Yung has brainwashed all of you. You are selling out your conscience,” the counter protestors shouted.

5pm: Hundreds of protesters from the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations have arrived at the marches end point in Central.
They are speaking in the Fujian dialect and many are reluctant to take any questions from reporters.

One woman said: “I am here to oppose Occupy Central as it will mess up Hong Kong … political reform? What is political reform?”

4.48pm: Wong Xu, 28, a media worker from the northeast Liaoning province is among the marchers. He said he came to Hong Kong to visit his friends and took the opportunity to join the march.

He has been to Hong Kong many times but this is the first time he has joined a protest. He said he had followed Hong Kong’s fight for democracy from the mainland and does not agree with Occupy Central because it is against the law. “Hong Kong needs to protect its universal suffrage in accordance with the constitution, and not through violent means,” he said.

4.45pm: “This is the most organised protest I have covered over the years,” writes Post reporter Jeffie Lam. “People are gathered in community groups – usually according to their hometowns in China – and dressed in united t-shirts and baseball caps. This is not something usually seem on the July 1 pro-democracy march.”

“While some elderlies are pointing their fingers at Occupy Central angrily, blasting the movement for destroying Hong Kong, there are more protesters who appear to be very reluctant to take questions from reporters. There is an employee from Ying Wah Construction Group saying he was not forced to join before I asked any question.”

4.30pm: Members of the the Voice of Loving Hong Kong cheer marchers on in Wan Chai, waving large flags of Hong Kong and China.

Jia you” they shout in Putonghua, which roughly translates as: “Try your best, you can do it!”

4.30pm: Anti-government activists mock Robert Chow Yung with an effigy of the Alliance For Peace and Democracy organiser.

“I oppose Occupy Central because others are opposing it too,” their slogan reads.

4.20pm: One woman taking part told the Post that she had only joined the march after direct pressure from her seniors at work. The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said she was from Hong Kong but some of her colleagues had travelled from Shenzhen. “I would not have joined if there was no pressure,” she said, adding that she normally took part in Hong Kong’s July 1 demonstration.

4.14pm: Hong Kong government has released a statement on today’s “activities organised by community groups” following media requests for comment:

“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government fully respects the public’s right to take part in processions and their freedom of expression as enshrined in law.

“The HKSAR Government welcomes and supports all activities which take forward the implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 in accordance with the law and opposes all unlawful acts which affect social order and the betterment of our people.

“The Chief Executive submitted on July 15 to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) his report on whether there was a need to amend the methods for selecting the Chief Executive of the HKSAR in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council of the HKSAR in 2016. After the NPCSC has made its decision at the end of August, the HKSAR Government will in the next stage launch another round of public consultation.

“The HKSAR Government sincerely hopes that universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election will be implemented in 2017, so that over five million eligible voters will be able to elect the next CE by ‘one person, one vote’.”

4pm: Some minor confrontations have been reported between marchers and Occupy Central supporters. One marcher threw a tray of 24 eggs at members of People Power, who support the Occupy movement, but the eggs hit a woman police officer, according to reports.

In another incident a scuffle broke out after a demonstrator threw a water bottle. It is unclear whether any arrests have been made.

3.55pm: The march is rather a lacklustre affair, according to Post reporters on the ground. Marchers are plodding along, shielding themselves from the sun with umbrellas, while there is no chanting of slogans or creative costumes often seen during Hong Kong demonstrations. “Whistles blown half-heartedly can be heard from time to time but most people look indifferent. It seems like a march without a soul,” reports Nectar Gan.

Some 30 employees from the Ying Wah Construction Group refused to take questions from reporters. One man, who refused to be named said he was there to oppose Occupy Central, but said he had no opinion on the political reform debate.

3.41pm: More people taking part in the march have told journalists that they aren’t sure what they are marching for. One woman, who identified herself as a tourist, told Cable Television News: “I come here to play, to buy things”. Another, an 18-year-old chef from Shenzhen, told Agence France-Presse that he was “not very sure” why he was taking part, and had only attended because his friend had asked him to.

3.30pm: Victoria Park is almost empty now, apart from a lot of rubbish left behind. Anti-Occupy stickers, fake flowers handed out by organisers and water bottles litter the floor. Music with a thumping bassline is being pumped out to encourage the stragglers.

3.05pm: A number of South Asian men have joined the protest, dressed in the red shirts carrying the logo of the Federation of Hong Kong Shenzhen Association. One participant, who did not give his name, refused to say whether they were being paid to join the march. “We are tourists,” he said.

There seems to be some confusion in Victoria Park, with an increasing number of protesters not knowing where to go. Many are standing around unsure of what to do, with some accusing the organisers of being in disarray. Mr Liu, 64, said he had lost his retired friends. “The organisers are amateur and don’t have experience organising marches,” he blasted.

An official directing the crowd said: “Even I don’t know what’s happening. It’s all messed up.”

2.49pm: The city’s biggest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, has set up a booth at the junction of Hennessy Road and Stewart Road, handing out bottled waters to protesters. Executive councillor and lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king is thanking protesters for joining the march.

“The turnout of the protest today has proven many ‘Hongkongers’ do not want to see occupy central to happen,” she told the Post.

Meanwhile in Victoria Park half the central lawn has been flooded by the Federation of Fujian Association. Members wearing orange polo shirts are holding up red banners carrying slogans such as “Let’s oppose Occupy Central together, universal suffrage will succeed”.

2.28pm: Many of the participants gathered at Victoria Park are elderly, with many coming from various groups and cities in mainland China. Some of the group leaders are chanting anti-Occupy slogans in Putonghua, while pro-Beijing lawmakers have stationed themselves at strategic points along the march route as ‘cheering teams’.

Police and protesters appear to be getting on famously – a marked contrast to relations during the July 1 demonstration. Some of the marchers are even thanking officers as they pass by.

2pm: Protester Hung Cho-sang of Pui Kiu Alumni Association, explains why he is taking part in the march. “Occupy Central harms Hong Kong economy. There will be no overseas investment if Hong Kong society is always in a mess and full of anger. Hong Kong needs to be peaceful and political reform should progress slowly.”

People are continuing to spill out of restaurants in Windsor House. One man, who gave his name only a Mr Che, said he had just finished a free lunch with fellow marchers and was now heading onto the streets. ‘Occupy Central can’t be peaceful, it must break the law. That’s why I’m against it,” he said.

1.56pm: All six of the sports pitches in Victoria Park are full, according to a policeman at the scene. Demonstrators are now being diverted to lawns in the centre of the park. Crowds of people wearing white T-shirts or orange polo shirts are flooding into the park from Tin Hau MTR.

1.50pm: Prior to the march restaurants in Causeway Bay and surrounding areas were packed with flocks of people representing different groups. The Hong Kong Hubei Fraternity and An Kwei Clans Association reserved around 30 tables in the Cheers Restaurant in Windsor House, while people formed a long queue in washrooms to change into their orange marching uniform.

The Hong Kong Hakka Association reserved the whole of King’s Cuisine on the 6/f and several more tables in Choi Fuk Toyal Banquet on the ninth floor. Some families are disappointed to be turned away from their Sunday dim sum lunch.

So who is footing the bill for these large-scale lunches?

1.38pm: The march has started. Medics have been called to reports of an elderly person fainting in the heat. Hong Kong Observatory has a hot weather warning in force and the temperature is currently just over 31 degrees Celsius.

1.30pm: A group aged in their 50s lining up in Hong Hum also sported the Federation of Hong Kong Shenzhen Association shirts. One woman told the Post she was joining the march for fun, as part of a day trip.

When asked whether she knew what she was marching for, she replied: “I don’t know, I’m just here to join the fun. I only know it’s for anti-Occupy Central.” When asked whether she knew what Occupy Central was, she shook her head.

1.25pm: Demonstrators this afternoon will be under close scrutiny, following accusations that a number of businesses have pressured employees to turn out on the streets, with inducements of time off work and the promise of free meals. Rumours suggest mainland tourists have also been mobilised to join the march. Organisers have rubbished the claims.

Earlier, members of the pro-establishment Federation of Hong Kong Shenzen Association squeezed onto a packed train wearing red polo shirts and red baseball caps. The man leading the group joked: “If you don’t all get off in Causeway Bay I will be fired.”

1.15pm: Good afternoon and welcome to‘s live coverage of this afternoon’s anti-Occupy Central protest. Organisers, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, have predicted a turnout of 120,000 people. Demonstrators are currently gathering at Victoria Park, where they will march to Central. The actual turnout at the end of the day will be a hot topic as protest organisers and authorities often come up with wildly differing figures. This time, however, it will be fascinating to see whether the authorities play down the number of people of people on the streets.

Source URL (retrieved on Aug 17th 2014, 9:15pm):


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