HIGH TIDE (JULY 2ND 2015) – DAILY POLITICAL ROUND-UP

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July 1st march sees low turnout; NPCSC mentions Hong Kong in new security law; Several pro-establishment players receive highest honours. Photo credit: Chris Lusher  

Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

Annual July 1st march sees second lowest turnout ever on 18th anniversary of the Handover
– Organisers Civil Human Rights Front announced 48,000 people attended the march. Police said just 6,240 started the march, with peak participation at 19,650; while independent observers from the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme counted 28,000
– Last year, around 500,000 attended the annual march that began in 2003. The high turnout in 2014 has been attributed to the white paper released by Beijing in June.
– Meanwhile, around 20 people wielding Chinese flags marched from Southern playground to Golden Bauhinia Square to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the handover.

CY Leung urges society to get behind Government’s development efforts; blames pandems for reform failure (again).
– At the Handover celebration cocktail party, CY Leung took the chance to take yet another dig at the 28 legislators who voted against the Government’s reform package, and the “unlawful Occupy movement”. praising the police and his Government instead.
– Leung also said that democracy is “no panacea” for economic and livelihood issues, and urged legislators to refrain from filibustering in LegCo, as the current administration aims to boost those two things.
– Former Chief Executive Donald ‘Bow-Tie’ Tsang was notably absent from the ceremonies. Tsang could face charges for receiving favours during his tenure as CE.

Pro-establishment heavy hitters awarded Hong Kong’s highest honours.
– The 2015 Honours List was officially published on July 1st.
– Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang, FTU leader and ExCo member Cheng Yiu-tong, and Chinese Chamber of Commerce life honorary chairman Ho Sai-chu have been awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest honour under the Government’s award system.
– Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who oversaw police efforts against the occupy movement and recently retired as Commissioner of Police, has been awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star.
– The presentation ceremony has been tentatively scheduled for October. The full list of recipients can be found here.

Political (General)

NPCSC pass sweeping security law; does not apply to Hong Kong — yet.
– A new National Security Law was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) yesterday.
– Hong Kong is mentioned in two clauses:

Article 11: “Defending national sovereignty, unity and territorial completeness is the duty of all Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.”

Article 40: “Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR should fulfil their responsibility of defending national security.”

– CY Leung stated that the law does not apply to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong’s obligations are done through local legislation in accordance with Article 23.
– He reassured citizens that the current Government has no plans to enact Article 23 legislation.
– The last time the anti-subversion law was proposed, almost 700,000 people took the streets in protest exactly 12 years ago.

Localist Mong Kok ‘water festival’ a no-show
– An unknown localist group made public invitations on social media for a “late night water festival” on Sai Yeung Choi Street after the July 1st march.
– A heavy police presence was set up through out the temporary pedestrian area and frequently searched young passerbys.
– While many familiar protesters and occupy veterans were seen at the scene, there was no sign of the promised ‘festivities’.
– Last Sunday, localist groups protested on the same street against mainland-style square dancing in the area, resulting in clashes with pro-Beijing supporters and the Police deploying pepper spray.