- Tens of thousands brave bad weather to fill Tamar Park, waving the national flag and singing the national anthem
- Business and pro-Beijing heavyweights on hand as crowd chants ‘No violence, save Hong Kong’
Some property tycoons threw their support behind the Hong Kong government at a rally for the first time on Saturday " amid a couple of marches by opponents.
Braving rain and nasty weather at Tamar Park in Admiralty were Wharf Holdings ex-chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching and the company's managing director Stephen Ng Tin-hoi, as well as Hui Wing-mau, the chairman of Shanghai-based Shimao Property.
Also there were Adam Kwok Kai-fai, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, David Chiu Tat-cheong, the head of Far East Consortium International, and Stewart Leung Chi-kin, the chairman of Real Estate Developers Association's executive committee.
They were flanked by a crowd waving the national flag, singing the national anthem and chanting "No violence, save Hong Kong". Organisers said 476,000 people joined the demonstration, but police put the number at 108,000 at its peak.
The rally lasted for about 90 minutes, with videos of recent violence aired on the stage. Following the event, government supporters took pictures and selfies as the national anthem played.
"We condemn the violent acts by black-clad protesters armed with bricks and sticks, who held and beat two mainlanders at the airport this week," said Ng Chau-pei of the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance, the coalition of pro-government politicians and business leaders that organised the event.
"We strongly support the police in pursuing the offenders and upholding the rule of law."
A number of tycoons and business leaders have publicly supported the Hong Kong government in the past few week.
Hundreds of business leaders and pro-Beijing politicians were asked for their support in safeguarding the city's prosperity and stability by mainland officials last week in Shenzhen.
Woo, a 73-year-old former chief executive candidate, was the first to issue a direct appeal to all Hongkongers to stop resorting to violence triggered by massive anti-government protests. On Friday, 91-year-old tycoon Li Ka-shing placed advertisements in local newspapers to condemn the chaos and violence.
Thousands of anti-government protesters, meanwhile, marched in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan to protest against the recent influx of mainland tourists and the city's handling of the now-abandoned extradition bill fiasco.
The anti-bill Civil Human Rights Front has called for a rally at Victoria Park on Sunday.
Hong Kong has been gripped by months of street protests and political unrest sparked by the unpopular bill, which would have allowed for the transfer of criminal suspects to jurisdictions with which the city has no formal handover arrangements, notably mainland China.
We firmly oppose class boycott and oppose turning classroom into a political arenaWong Kam-leung, a secondary school principal
Prominent pro-government supporters took the stage on Saturday to condemn the protesters. Among these supporters were pro-Beijing lawmakers Starry Lee Wai-king, Lo Wai-kwok and Maria Tam Wai-chu, a member of the National People's Congress.
Chiu, of the Far East Consortium, said: "The protesters have damaged the daily operations of the tourism industry and transport sector, and now we see many restaurants closing. I hope we can stop the violence and have a dialogue."
Wong kam-leung, a secondary school principal, denounced calls by student groups " and the pro-democracy group Demosisto " to boycott classes when the new school term begins in September.
"We firmly oppose the class boycott and oppose turning classroom into a political arena," Wong said.
"We have also seen troubling reports of the children of officers being subject to bullying and name calling by their peers. We urge the protesters to show their humanity and tolerance to them."
In a separate development, the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, which promotes exchanges between lawyers in Hong Kong, Australia and mainland China, said on Friday it will petition the United Nations to investigate the involvement of the United States government in the city's recent turmoil.
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