Friday, 6 June 2014

Post June 4 Notes

How many people does that look like to you in Victoria Park?
The candlelight vigil in Victoria Park on Wednesday marking the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown had a sharp increase in the number of mainlanders attending.

Organizers claim 180,000 were at the event, while police say 99,500. But when every football pitch was filled as well as the grassy areas and people were still queuing from the streets, then there must have been a lot of people there -- including me.

The Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, the organizers, said HK$1.8 million was raised this year, which was second to the record HK$2.3 million in 2012.

The large numbers of mainlanders attending was evidenced by the amount of renminbi placed in the donation boxes, equal to HK$40,000, a 60 percent increase from last year. There must have been some mainland visitors who also donated in Hong Kong dollars.

"From our fundraising work and observations, we believe there were many more mainland tourists attending the vigil than a year ago," said alliance vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong.

He said the largest donation came from someone who dropped an envelope containing 5,000 yuan into the collection box.

Tsoi explained the donations would pay for the HK$1 million to put on the vigil and then the rest for the alliance's operation costs and activities.

Interestingly the student-led Scholarism did some fundraising on Great George Street on the way to Victoria Park. It managed to raise HK$370,000 -- more than the HK$210,000 from last year and more than 10 times the HK$20,000 it raised in 2012.

The group also received about 8,000 yuan in donations. So while attendees of the vigil were there to remember the victims of June 4, they were also keen to support the group that is pushing for civil nominations (as opposed to public nominations) for the next chief executive election in 2017.

Civic nominations are where candidates must have a certain number of signatures to be put on the ballot whereas public nominations means anyone could be on the ballot regardless if they are going to get any viable votes or not.

Parties like the Labour Party, Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and the Democratic Party aren't supporting Scholarism's proposal, but even in North America there are no public nominations.

In any event, we found out that human rights lawyer Teng Biao is a visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His contract ends in a few months and then he will go to the United States to take part in another visiting program.

He said that the mainland authorities had contacted him by phone a week ago warning him not to attend Wednesday's vigil. "They did not specify what consequences there would be, but they said they would be serious," he said.

Of the event, Teng said he was moved by the huge turnout. "It is the first time in my life that I have seen so many people attending a political event."


2 comments:

  1. I find it interesting that some of the donations were made in Yuan. Do you think this a deliberate statement or, rather, that many mainland visitors to Hong Kong don't bother to change their Yuan to Hong Kong dollars?

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    1. Hi YTSL -- it is the latter... many are able to buy a lot of things using yuan in Hong Kong or charge to their credit card... now that I think of it we really are becoming like another Chinese city! Wah!

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