Footage of police does not lie, activist says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 March, 2011, 12:00am

A group of tech-savvy activists have recorded hundreds of hours of rallies, but it was a four-minute clip that has brought them instant fame.

Made by the Social Record Association (SocRec), the clip showed a policeman throwing punches at a group of activists as officers approached them during last Sunday's protest against the government budget in Central, but it did not show clearly whether anyone was hit.

It has been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube, and became one of the most talked-about news stories last week when Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung questioned its authenticity.

That irked Paul Leung Yat-ming, one of SocRec's founders, who said his group strove to be totally truthful by making unedited videos and posting them on the internet.

'We care about the credibility of videos uploaded to our website and YouTube: this is why we decided to register as a society according to law instead of just publishing videos online anonymously,' Leung said.

'We believe: there is a video, there is truth.'

The group aims for a new kind of social documentation by making uninterrupted recordings of social events and political protests.

The longest uninterrupted recording they did was a 13-hour tape of a July 1 protest last year.

The group has about 10 members, who Leung says have no common political affiliation and never met until more than a year ago.

A chance project asking for audio-visual enthusiasts brought them together in September 2009.

They were responding to an internet post asking video experts to help broadcast a Legislative Council by-election campaign launched by the League of Social Democrats.

Leung is a driver who works for an airport logistics firm. He is married with two children and lives on a public housing estate. He said his grass-roots background made him sensitive to the widening wealth gap and commercial cartels that dominated many service sectors in Hong Kong.

'Minority and social justice issues are our main concerns,' he said. 'We hope videos can be part of the history and fill the gaps of mainstream media reports.'

Apart from political protests, the group also recorded a recent Filipino domestic helpers' rally for rights and fair wages.

The video group has recorded dozens of social functions and political activities, including June 4 candle-light vigils and July 1 protests, protests at Tsoi Yuen Tsuen village, which is being razed for the express rail link to Guangzhou, and cultural events such as local concerts.

Leung said that what all group members had in common was a good knowledge of the internet and social networking techniques, which helped them to provide uninterrupted broadcasts.

Leung said that he used his free time to take part in what he called a social video movement.

At last Sunday's protest, he got back to work on time, by 9am, after covering the protest until 3am.

'As I am usually on night shift, I get some free time to join social activities in the day,' Leung said.

His wife has started complaining that he does not spend enough time with family and friends, and jokes that the videos will do no good. But Leung said he would persist because there was so much injustice.

The government favours the rich and powerful cartels, he said. 'We need a voice for minorities.

'I hope the videos can be kept as a library for our next generation, so our children have a chance to know what really happened today.'