Wen: Security bill will not affect freedoms in HK
( 2003-07-02 09:35) (China Daily HK Edition)
The national security legislation will not tamper with freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong, Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets Tuesday to protest various issues ranging from the soon-to-be-enacted national security bill to the way the government handled the SARS crisis.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said he was very concerned that a large number of citizens took part in the procession. He expressed his understanding of the aspirations of the participants.
"The government understood fully the importance the community attached to their rights and freedoms. On this, the government and the public share the same position," he said.
"We shall continue to take active steps to maintain and safeguard rights and freedoms and develop democracy in a gradual and orderly manner according to the blueprint laid down in the Basic Law," he stressed.
He noted that Hong Kong citizens have a duty to protect national security. Tung said the government will listen more extensively and strive to strengthen communication with the public.
The rally began at 3 pm, and finished at about 9.30 pm. Protesters started from Victoria Park and marched along Hennessy Road to reach Central Government Offices.
Organizers said about half a million took part in the rally. But owing to the huge number of participants, police were unable to determine the final figure.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said "the legislation complies with the Basic Law, whereas the process is democratic, transparent and open".
Besides, Hong Kong citizens have been widely consulted.
"This will absolutely not restrict various rights and freedoms currently enjoyed by the Hong Kong people in accordance with the law," he said.
More than 1,000 police were deployed to maintain order of the rally, said Tang Hou-kong, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch.
Among the petitioners were people coming from different sectors with different demands. They included lawyers, academics, students and media workers.
Most of the protesters are disgruntled because of declining income as a result of economic woes, said Chan Wing Kee, president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong.
He was worried that the citizens might have been misled by some people with ulterior motives as pawns for their individual benefits.
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