News / Asia

Mass Protest Challenges New Hong Kong Leader

Former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa (front L), Donald Tsang (front R), new Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (front 2nd L), his wife during a ceremony in Hong Kong, July 1, 2012.Former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa (front L), Donald Tsang (front R), new Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (front 2nd L), his wife during a ceremony in Hong Kong, July 1, 2012.
x
Former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa (front L), Donald Tsang (front R), new Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (front 2nd L), his wife during a ceremony in Hong Kong, July 1, 2012.
Former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa (front L), Donald Tsang (front R), new Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (front 2nd L), his wife during a ceremony in Hong Kong, July 1, 2012.
Hong Kong's new leader, Leung Chun-ying, has had a turbulent start to his five-year term, with more than 100,000 people joining an anti-government rally just hours after he took office. The mass demonstration is one of several major problems facing Leung as he tries to build his administration.

Hong Kong's annual July 1 protest march from the city's Victoria Park to the government headquarters was the biggest of its kind in the semi-autonomous Chinese region since 2004.

Local academics said Sunday's rally had a turnout of about 100,000 to 120,000 people. Many protesters called for the resignation of Leung Chun-ying, who had just been sworn in as Hong Kong's chief executive earlier in the day.

The 57-year-old wealthy businessman and former government official was selected for the city's top job in March by a 1,200-member committee mostly loyal to the Chinese government.

  • Hong Kong pro-democracy groups stage a large scale protest parade on June 30, 2012 while Chinese president Hu Jintao was in Hong Kong for a 3 day visit. (All images by Iris Tong for VOA)
  • Protesters try to push down the heavy blocks. Police have pepper spray ready.
  • Parade pass through narrow streets.
  • Police are also up on the blocks to take shots of the protest scene.
  • Protest slogan satirizes President Hu Jintao.
  • Protesters confront police.
  • Police ready to use more powerful pepper sprayers.
  • Police expand their block area.
  • A senior protester faces off with police.
  • Police show their warning.
  • Some protesters climb up on large blocks.
  • Police guarding the protest area.
  • Journalists wear “press freedom” t-shirts while on the job.
  • Pro-democracy groups estimate more than 400 thousand people took part in Hong Kong’s July 1st protest parades, the 3rd highest since 2003 and 2004.
  • Hong Kong netizens use a large poster to satirize the new Hong Kong chief.

Protesters: Leung Doesn't Represent Us

Emily Lau is a deputy leader of Hong Kong's Democratic Party and a member of the Legislative Council, or Legco. Speaking to VOA by phone a day after joining the march, she said protesters were upset because they fear Leung will not represent their interests.

"They don't like him, they think that he is just going to be a puppet of Beijing, and so "one country, two systems" - this policy promised to Hong Kong by the elder [Chinese] statesman Deng Xiaoping - is more or less in tatters," Lau said. "And people are afraid that with more and more interference by the central government, Hong Kong will lose its high degree of autonomy and the freedoms, the rule of law, civil liberties."

Luxury Home Scandal Triggers Anger

Marchers also were angered by Leung's acknowledgment last month that illegal modifications were made to his luxury home. He apologized publicly for the illicit structure and removed it, but the pro-democracy lawmaker said doubts remain about his honesty.

"He had originally said that he did not build it but now it turned out that maybe he did, so people are calling him a liar," Lau said. "And that is very, very bad. So I don't know how he is going to be able to put that behind him. I can't see a better way than to have an investigation by someone who is truly independent and respected and then to come out with a report. Otherwise, people are going to ask him questions every day and he would be giving little bits here and little bits there, so I just don't see how the government can function."

Observers said Sunday's big march also was a protest against the suspicious death of veteran pro-democracy activist Li Wangyang in central China last month, an incident that Beijing called an accident.

Concerns About Mainland Influence

Michael DeGolyer is a professor of government at Hong Kong Baptist University. He told VOA that many protesters believe Chinese authorities killed the activist and lied about it. They worry about the implications for Hong Kong.

"There's quite a concern about corruption and about lying and about Hong Kong becoming like the mainland," DeGolyer said. "And there is a lot of fear that CY Leung will govern more like the mainland than along the lines of traditional Hong Kong values."

DeGolyer said other factors driving people to protest included Hong Kong's huge gap between the rich and poor, and middle class anger about salaries remaining stagnant for years despite rising inflation.

Leung Pledges to Listen 'Seriously'

In comments to reporters Monday, Leung promised to listen "seriously and humbly" to the people's demands and try to fulfill them.

But protesters heckled the new leader as he tried to meet with residents at a public forum later in the day, triggering a chaotic scene that forced police to escort him away.

In another challenge to Leung, pro-democracy parties who led the July 1 march are seeking to win more Legco seats in a September 9 election, to enable them to veto government policies. Pro-establishment lawmakers who dominate the outgoing assembly also have been plagued by infighting between supporters of Leung and backers of his main rival in March's chief executive contest.

Two Months to Act Before Election

DeGolyer said Leung can overcome the challenges by acting quickly.

"If he acts between now and the election in September in ways that shore up his voiced support for the Basic Law and some of the values of Hong Kong; if he makes sure that he is clean and his officials are clean in terms of various rule-keeping, as officials are expected to anywhere, then he should be able to recover from this."

Legco will be expanded from 60 to 70 seats in the upcoming election, with half of the seats being directly elected and most of the others being selected by special interest groups that tend to side with the establishment.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid