Hong Kong’s lunchtime protests drew smaller crowds on Wednesday than they did before election weekend, with just 400 or so rallying in key commercial and residential districts, blocking roads and disrupting traffic.
The demonstrators – mostly wearing masks – chanted slogans such as “Hong Kong has not won yet” and “Give back the campus”, a reference to the police blockade of Polytechnic University, where a dwindling number of radical protesters have been holed up for more than a week.
In Central, about 100 people packed the footbridge between the World-Wide House office tower and the stock exchange complex, with a similar number on a footbridge between Prince’s Building and Jardine House.
Across the harbour, another 100 people or so gathered in Kwun Tong, making their way along Tsun Yip Street and Hung To Street, holding up traffic at the junction.
Two colleagues surnamed Wan and Kwong, who work in the garment industry, said they had been going to midday protests regularly for more than a month.
Both said they voted in Sunday’s district council elections, in which the pro-democracy camp chalked up big gains, taking 76.8 per cent of 452 seats on offer. They said they continued to take to the streets to reiterate protesters’ five demands, which included universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police’s use of force.
“The pro-democracy camp’s win in the district council elections is evidence that Hongkongers want change,” Wan said. “We won’t stop until the government heeds our demands.”
About a dozen riot police arrived around 1.30pm at the junction of Wai Yip Street and Lai Yip Street, urging protesters to stop blocking the roads. Officers told protesters they did “not want to restrict their freedom of expression”, but warned that they were part of an illegal assembly.
Some truck drivers in the gridlocked traffic shouted at protesters, complaining that they were causing a nuisance. A handful of onlookers said the lunchtime protests were annoying.
A courier, who declined to give his name, was making a delivery in the area and complained that it was inconvenient and dangerous when protesters blocked the road.
“[The protesters] make it difficult to work,” he said.
Another protester, who only gave her surname, Chow, said she had been joining lunchtime protests in the area since early November.
“Hongkongers have spoken clearly using their votes in the district council elections”, said the textile industry worker, in her early 30s. “The next step is for newly elected councillors to fight for the livelihoods and beliefs of residents in their districts.”
“There has to be a better and more understanding way to resolve the clashes between youngsters and police,” she said, adding that she completed a diploma at the embattled PolyU campus.
There was a similar number of people at a daytime gathering in nearby Kowloon Bay. Outside the Zero Carbon Building, next to the MegaBox shopping mall, about 100 peaceful marchers sang the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong.
A day earlier, more than 200 people occupied roads in Kowloon Bay, bringing traffic to a halt for a few minutes at the crossroads between Sheung Yuet Road and Wang Chiu Road. On the same day, more than 100 protesters rallied in Central, chanting political slogans and showing support for radicals stuck on the PolyU site.
The Hung Hom campus was still blockaded on Wednesday, but university management urged officers to lift the cordon after finding no more protesters following a search in the morning.
Government 'help' to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.