The organiser of a July 1 Handover celebration event at Victoria Park’s football pitches in Causeway Bay has said that they will not give part of the venue to pro-annual pro-democracy march organisers. By doing so, “a riot may start,” said the head of the Hong Kong Celebrations Association Cheng Yiu-tong.

The football pitches were promised to the pro-Beijing group for the second year in a row because it has a charitable status. It will host an exhibition on the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area and a lion dance carnival between June 30 and July 2.

Cheng said the group simply applied in accordance with the rules. He is also an honorary president of the Federation of Trade Unions, as well as a member of the government’s Executive Council.

Cheng Yiu-tong
Cheng Yiu-tong. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Asked if the Association will talk with the Civil Human Rights Front – organiser of the pro-democracy march – Cheng said: “What’s there to discuss?… Why don’t we just scrap all the rules and we negotiate privately? It will be unfair to other groups.”

“[The Front] has used the venue for more than a decade – why can’t we use it for two years?” Cheng said.

“Some reporters asked if we will give part of the venue [to the Front] – then a riot may start, because we have different views. We don’t want to see such situation,” he said, adding that the Association needed the whole area for the event.

The Front received a letter of no objection from the police last Friday, which stated that the police would not object to the march under the condition that it began at Victoria Park’s lawn.

July 1 march
July 1 march in 2017 at the Victoria Park lawn. Photo:

The Front used the lawn as the starting point last year, but said it was not an ideal venue because it had a narrow exit. Thus, it did not apply for the lawn this year.

It said the activist groups were discussing whether to engage in civil disobedience in that they would urge the public to join the march from different points, instead using the lawn as a starting point.

In response, Cheng said he cannot stop the Front from committing civil disobedience, but he believed the police had experience in handling the situation.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.