Friday, 20 June 2014

Bring It On

A screen shot with a bird and says "Occupy Central with love and peace"
Hong Kong's civic referendum on universal suffrage began at noon today. A colleague asked me where she could vote and I quickly found the site at popvote.hk.

She wanted to do it by mobile phone so we downloaded a QR code scanner on her phone before she could scan the QR code on the website and then proceed with voting.

I tried to do the same but my phone had trouble scanning the code for some bizarre reason and I ended up doing it online which was much more tedious, but was completed within minutes.

It asks voters to choose one of three proposals from the Alliance for True Democracy, People Power, and Students.

Then it asks if whether Legco should veto any reform plan that does not provide a genuine choice of candidates to the public in 2017.

In the first hour there were over 60,000 votes, and just before midnight over 400,000. Organizers were hoping for 100,000 votes and permanent residents can vote until June 29.

Even before the referendum began the website suffered an unprecedented number of cyber attacks. And when people vote, the website does warn about the cyber attacks and asks for patience if pages are slow to load.

Soon after voting began, the Chinese government immediately condemned the referendum.

"Any form of so-called 'referendum' held in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that lacks a constitutional legal basis is illegal and invalid," said a representative of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also noted that none of the three proposals complied with the Basic Law, but residents want to broaden the nomination base from a core of a few thousand people to the wider population.

It will be interesting to see how many do vote in the coming days, but already the results are very strong.

This clearly indicates people in Hong Kong are very unhappy with the current situation and want to be able to do something about it other than march on the streets every weekend.

And their motivation to vote was probably accelerated by the release of Beijing's white paper last week when China insisted it had complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

Beijing may have thought it would preempt the Occupy Central but in fact added fuel to the fire. Chinese officials must be freaking out at the moment and wondering why Hong Kong people are so adamant about one man, one vote...

Yes we know the referendum is not legally binding, but we were promised universal suffrage by 2017 and by golly we're going to make sure we get it, one way or another.

I was wrong about Occupy Central starting on July 1 -- news reports say it will happen later this year. But this referendum is to see what appetite there is for the movement and over 400,000 people so far have said YES!


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