The Straits Times
Published on Jan 02, 2013

Hong Kong leader faces divide after mass rally


HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong's beleaguered leader faces a huge task to bridge a widening political gap, analysts said on Wednesday, after a mass rally pushing for his resignation and a swifter path to democracy under Chinese rule.

Tens of thousands of people marched on New Year's Day in two opposing demonstrations, heaping pressure on the city's Beijing-backed chief executive Leung Chun-ying who is also embroiled in an embarrassing renovations scandal.

Pro-democracy campaigners, some waving flags from the British colonial era, called for direct leadership elections, while a pro-government camp said Leung should be allowed to get on with his job of addressing a slowing economy and housing shortages.

Observers said the rare duelling rallies illustrate new divisions in the regional financial hub, where political discontent is increasing 15 years after Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule.