• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:47am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 3:59am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 3:59am

Cyberattacks on Hong Kong 'referendum' website and Apple Daily likely to have opposite effect


Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.

The people behind the cyberattacks on Occupy Central's mock referendum on political reform and the pan-democratic Apple Daily are not just criminals but idiots.

They don't just break the law; they end up encouraging more people to take part in the voting just to show support and place the editors and owner Jimmy Lai of Apple Daily on the moral high ground. We don't know if they were authorised by mainland authorities, as claimed by their victims, or were freelance nationalist hackers. No matter what, they are hurting the very cause they claim to support. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, co-founder of the Occupy movement, said yesterday that the volume of attacks on popvote.hk, the portal that supports the referendum on the web, was four times higher than usual.

Apple Daily websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan were repeatedly attacked in recent days and crashed completely one time.

There is that old chestnut about not agreeing with your opponents but being obligated to defend their right to express themselves. That especially holds true today. Survey after survey has shown public nomination, which underpins all three plans being voted on in the "referendum", does not have majority support. In fact, Occupy Central seriously compromised itself by throwing out all the other moderate pan-democratic proposals as well as those put forward by groups close to the political establishment.

Apple has given up all pretence of journalistic objectivity. It's not just promoting pan-democratic causes like Occupy's referendum but is effectively inciting the public against the government on all fronts.

But it's a free city. You don't have to support Occupy and Apple to believe they have the right to do what they do. Ultimately the only way to contest their extreme positions is through the court of public opinion. Attacking the referendum portal, for example, just gives Tai and his supporters an excuse to extend the voting by a week. He previously said if fewer than 100,000 people voted, he would have failed and would call it a day. But thanks to the attacks and Beijing's ill-timed white paper, an overwhelming number of referendum voters is now guaranteed.


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This article is now closed to comments

Alex, how can you deny that 700,000 online mean anything other than that people think their government is rotten to the core?
Let’s conduct a Robert Chung look-alike referendum and pretend it’s sponsored by the government.
A: Every HK resident over the age of 62 will receive HK$100,000 a year in transfer payments.
B: All university students will receive spending allowance HK$30,000 a year.
C: All parents with children between age 5 to 16 will receive HK$10,000 a year.
D: Veto any or all of the above.
What do you think the computer generated “voter” turnout will be? Do you trust this to be a reliable survey of public sentiments? Every result of a poll depends on questions not asked. IS THE REFERENDUM FOR REAL?
If Robert Chung is staking his reputation on this kind of survey questions and he says he is not ideologically vested, I will eat my hat.
For those of you with long memories of the Tung-Lo-Chung Year 2000 saga that led to the resignation of the HKU Vice Chancellor, I would like to ask this question. What was Chung’s motive in asking to meeting Tung privately with his surveyed results first – and not just publishing it – if not trying to curry favor with the CE?
Here is my take. Mr. Tung turned down the request. Dr. Chung acted a pollster scorned, 老羞成怒, and triggered the “scandal” that we all came to know.
BTW, Chung was a pollster, but not a professor with tenure at Media Sciences Center. So he couldn’t afford to be brazen like Benny Tai with sinecure for life. He played the academic freedom card very well indeed.
Let me get this straight. You come up with an imaginary "referendum" and attribute it to Chung. You then attack Chung's ideological bias based on what you made up and arbitrarily attributed to him? Wow!!!! Your imagination is colourful, and your logic is circular. I mean, you seriously make me LOL.
Let's use your "logic" for a second. If I imagine Xi Jinping to have had carnal relations with farm animals, can I then accuse the CCP's supreme leader of bestiality? You claim to be a man of science, and your logic works like this?
On another note, you seem to have developed an interest in the actual opinion of HKers (and not just your delusional impressions of the "silent majority"). You know, the HK Transition Project constitutional survey 2014 hasn't gone anywhere. You can conjure up the courage and go check it out. For you, more than for most people, it will be an enlightening experience. I highly recommend it.
You seem concerned about the accuracy with which the referendum will reflect "true" opinion. Again, the HKTP survey will dispel those concerns. The publication is replete with a detailed methods section, and the results all have 95% confidence intervals for your enjoyment.
If you want an actionable expression of HK opinion, however, you'll have to wait for the election. You do realize the referendum is just another step in the process of moving towards that, right? With you people, I can never be sure of what you get and what you don't.
Of course Lai Chee Ying should be interrogated as suspect in generating massive denial of service. In any murder case, the spouse is often the primary suspect.
Lai has a beef with the Chinese government. He paid tens of millions to Cardinal Zen, whose uses of the funds were never disclosed. One might rightfully suspect they were used for subversive activities on the mainland. Is this legal under one country two systems?
If they are for charitable and religious purposes, show us the receipts.
Has you ever heard of a single case in the Catholic Church where someone of high profile as Cardinal Zen accepting such huge amount as personal funds? Usual procedure is for the Holy Man to pay administrative expenses to his Diocese or the Holy See in dispensing the funds to charity or whatever. Did Cardinal Zen pocket what is due the Church? Smells fishy to me. So James Lai could very well be the co-conspirator and material witness. By his past behavior and the quality of his publication, Lai is not beyond generating attacks on his own servers. First, let him speak out what he gave the money to Cardinal Zen for.
HK ICAC, where are you in the midst of these potentially money laundering activities? HK is becoming more lawless by the day.
Dai Muff
The servers mounting this attack are overwhelmingly in the mainland .They have been traced. Unless Mr Lai has become a communist, it is extremely unlikely to be him,
"In any murder case, the spouse is often the primary suspect."
---and this earth-shattering observation is relevant in the current discussion because....
Another big piece of innuendo from our resident amateur psychologist who seems filled to the brim with creative stories about other people's motivations and actions. What he lacks is any evidence to sustain or support any of his grand speculative dissertations. But that's not going to stop him. His service to the CCP is a higher calling, and his performance of acts of piety will not be denied by trifling concerns like logic or evidence.
Some readers below suggested that the polling of the referendum could have been computer generated. Ha-ha-ha! Wonderful! Thank you very much. I never thought of that.
How About
There are simply innumerable possibilities including those pointed out herein below- if an entity like CCP wants to silence Lai and popVote, the DDoS attack would still be there, oops. Conversely those are Apple Daily's servers, Lai's can have them traced by his pal Paul Wolfowitz and then publish the culprit of the DDoS, my invitation to Lai still stands.
Now looking forward, many of the pro-Voters are already overjoyed with the 'hit-rates', consider this, what if more than 50% of the valid registered hits voted Abstentions to one or both questions? The organizers better start laying some clear ground rules that DO have everyone's consensus as to what they can mean, so as to avoid another interpretational/representational fiasco such as the one we just had with the lawyers.
Dai Muff
Abstentions would be fine. Because you miss the point that ANY VOTE is a vote for democratic process. Oh, and the DDoS attack IS still going on. It's just failing. Sorry.
That's a fair point. Having a good turn-out is one thing. Remains to be seen what people actually voted for. That will become clear in short order.




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