Protesters stage anti-government rally in Hong Kong
HONG KONG — Several hundred protesters rallied outside the headquarters of Hong Kong’s law-making body on Wednesday against government plans to scrap by-elections.
Activists from the People Power movement pumped their fists into the air and chanted slogans outside the city’s legislative council, shouting: “Respect the right to vote.”
“The right to vote is a basic human right. The government should not try to stop by-elections,” the group’s spokesman told AFP.
Hong Kong’s economy is booming but its government is facing an increasingly angry public frustrated with its policies and soaring property prices, and analysts warn the discontent is set to rise.
Nearly 220,000 people hit the streets on July 1, according to organisers, to vent their anger at a slew of issues, in the city’s biggest rally in seven years, showing the deepening unpopularity of Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
Officials quickly shelved a controversial by-election bill in the wake of the rally, amid a chorus of criticism that Hong Kong was bowing to Beijing.
The shelved proposal stemmed from the resignation of five lawmakers last year, which triggered by-elections seen as an unofficial referendum to pressure Beijing to speed up electoral reform in the southern Chinese city.
Meanwhile, up to a hundred protesters from another political group marched from the legislative council building to government headquarters in downtown Hong Kong, chanting: “I have the right to vote.”
The group, which was involved in a stand-off with the police that lasted hours, also called for the resignation of the city’s Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Stephen Lam.
Police presence along the march route was heavy.
The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but it retains a semi-autonomous status, maintaining its own political and legal system.