Analysts say the protest rattled
the country's leaders

Justice Secretary Elsie Leung said she was unaware of any moves to postpone the bill’s implementation, saying the decision was completely up to the government.

More than half a million protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Tuesday in an unprecedented display of public discontent against the new law.

Many fear the law, dubbed clause 23, will curb human rights and muzzle free speech. Critics of the legislation are concerned that it will erode political freedom six years after the territory’s return to Chinese rule.

The demonstration, the biggest in Hong Kong since more than one million people rallied after the 1989 Tiananmen square killings, was portrayed by the media and analysts as a warning to the government of Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa.

Demonstrators also demanded Tung should step down, saying he had failed to resolve the city’s economic woes since the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China.

More protests planned

The government will pass
Clause 23 despite protests

Tung was tight-lipped after a meeting with his cabinet on Wednesday. But he vowed in a statement to listen more closely to the people and strengthen communication.

Secretary of Education and Manpower Arthur Li said he understood the protesters concerns, but insisted the new laws “will not affect all freedoms and rights of the people”.

Officials have ruled out further changes to the proposed legislation, which has been amended 51 times in the past three months alone.

Legislators who oppose the law warned of more protests if the government pushed through the law, next week as scheduled.

The United States, which has firmly opposed the law, has said the rally indicated the importance that Hong Kong’s population attach to freedom of speech and civil liberties.