Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Everything's rosy, says Tung Chee-hwa

DPA , HONG KONG

As hundreds of thousands of people prepared to take part in the pro-democracy march yesterday, Hong Kong's leader insisted the territory was enjoying an economic resurgence.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) said his administration had addressed grievances and had improved its governance since 500,000 people took part in an anti-government march on July 1 last year.

Tung, speaking at a reception yesterday to mark the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, insisted economic factors were behind last year's protest.

"People took to the streets to express their discontent at the economy, their worries about the future and their criticisms against the administration," he said.

"We have managed to tide over all difficulties and Hong Kong has now turned the corner ... Public sentiment is improving and people have restored confidence about the future. That is in sharp contrast to last year," he said.

While last year's march had no fixed theme, this year's rally had the stated aim of pushing for universal suffrage for Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Tung did not mention democracy in his speech yesterday morning but conceded that universal suffrage was the "ultimate aim" for Hong Kong.

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