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Macau June 4 vigil turnout rises but participants still low

The annual June 4 vigil was held Monday night in Senado Square attracting approximately 200 attendees as the weather improved later into the evening.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

The annual June 4 vigil was held Monday night in Senado Square attracting approximately 200 attendees as the weather improved later into the evening.

According to the Macau Daily Times the turnout marks a rise compared to last year, when organizers were able to muster only 50 to 60 people.

“The vigil marks the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident, when the government of the People’s Republic of China forcibly suppressed student-led demonstrations in Beijing and more than 400 other locations across the country. The demonstrators were demanding democratic reforms, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as an end to corruption within the Communist Party.” the paper wrote today.

Twenty-nine years on, the incident remains controversial, both on the mainland and in Hong Kong and Macau.

Monday’s vigil attracted scores of demonstrators who, wielding candles and electric lights, gathered around a black banner on the floor of the square to listen to several speakers.

Speeches were delivered by lawmaker duo Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong.

Ng criticized a lack of progress in the democratization of the mainland’s political system, even compared with three decades ago.

He also criticized the distribution of wealth in China, saying it has been amassed in the hands of the few and the general populace is little better off than in 1989.

Ng Kwok Cheong also  noted that while China has enjoyed rapid economic development and technological innovations in recent years and become an economically powerful country, June 4 still remained a taboo for the authorities.

Au Kam San admitted  that  not many were attending the vigil due to the rain, but he said he didn’t mind as the vigil was about remembering the victims of the incident. “We will keep organising it,” Au said.

Suspended lawmaker Sulu Sou also made an appearance.

“This is a memorable historical matter for us,” said Sou. “As Macau and Chinese citizens, we have the responsibility to remember this matter […] and share it with the youngest people in our society.”

Regarding the turnout of the event, which had been steadily dropping in recent years, Sou believes that there are a number of factors at play. Perhaps the most important, he said, was a lack of formal education about the sensitive topic in Macau’s schools.

“One reason is that the young people cannot (find) a connection with this history matter from their school – or even the media,” he argued.

Nevertheless, this year’s turnout was slightly higher than in previous years. In 2016 and 2017, just 50 to 60 people attended the evening vigil, spurning concerns over diminishing interest.

Sou also took the opportunity to stress that he appreciates that events like the June 4 vigil can still be held in Macau. “I treasure that Macau still has this freedom to hold this rally and talk about this matter,” he said.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

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