[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Hong Kong protesters urge leader to resign

Thousands take to the streets of China's semi-autonomous city to try to force scandal-hit Leung Chun-ying to step down.
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2013 15:06

Tens of thousands of protesters have marched on Hong Kong streets, demanding greater democracy and the resignation of the city's embattled leader.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from Hong Kong, said Leung Chun-ying had been embroiled in scandal ever since he became chief executive six months ago.

Our correspondent said some of the problems "stemmed from changes to his luxury home which were techinically against the law".

Leung has acknowledged and apologised for the structures, which were built without planning permission and include a wooden trellis and a glass enclosure.

But our correspondent said many have not been convinced by his explanations and apology.

"He subsequently explained those things to legislators here and also to the public. Many people believe he has been economical with the truth. Some people - legislators - have accused him of downright lying. He has a credibility problem. Thousands of people here just don't believe him," said our correspondent.

Organisers have said they expected 50,000 people to join the New Year's Day march against Leung, while pro-government groups staged separate and smaller rallies in support of the Beijing-backed chief executive.

'Universal suffrage'

"We have to keep voicing our concerns even though the situation is getting worse," 27-year-old university student Billy Li said as the demonstrators set off from a park to march to the government's harbourfront headquarters.

Holding up posters of Leung portrayed as a vampire and a wolf, the protesters - some waving flags from the British colonial era - chanted "Give us universal suffrage immediately" and "Step down, Leung Chun-ying".

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, ending more than 150 years of British administraion.

Although part of mainland China with semi-autonomous status, the city's 7.1 million residents choose their chief executive under a system called "small-circle" election that excludes many would-be voters.

Hong Kong also maintains guarantees of civil liberties such as the right to protest, which is barely tolerated on the mainland.

Leung was elected in March by a 1,200-strong election committee packed by a pro-Beijing elite, amid rising anger among residents over what many perceive to be China meddling in local affairs.

Beijing has said the city's chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020.

"We want to push for Leung's resignation to further push for democratic elections in Hong Kong," Jackie Hung, a spokeswoman for protest organiser Civil Human Rights Front, told the AFP news agency.

"Because we don't have a democratic government, most of the policies introduced by this government do not directly reflect the interests of the people," she said. 

433

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.