Hong Kong activists try to block quake donations over corruption fears
Campaigns launched over fears that corrupt officials will siphon off donations, including part of HK$100m government plans to give
Emily Tsang and Joshua But
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Activists and internet users in Hong Kong have launched campaigns against donating to quake-hit Sichuan.
They want to block a proposed donation of HK$100 million of public funds, arguing it will only feed corrupt mainland officials. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced the planned donation yesterday.
A special Legislative Council meeting tomorrow will be asked to approve it.
The proposal prompted debate on whether such a giveaway was is the best way to help.
Responding to such doubts, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the donations made by the Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee "will be subject to very stringent requirements and supervision".
"The public do not have to worry about it," Lam said.
But that failed to convince political parties and activists.
Such reluctance comes in sharp contrast to the generosity that followed the Sichuan earthquake five years ago, when the government gave HK$10 billion, and non-government groups raised HK$15 billion from the public.
Yesterday, the Macau government announced it was giving Sichuan HK$100 million. Unicef, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, other local co-operatives and agencies had raised or donated at least HK$12.4 million in emergency relief by 6pm yesterday.
The Democratic Party and the Civic Party said they would decide today whether to support the government's proposed donation. Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said she received many objections about the funding plan.
"I am deeply sorry and feel sympathy for the disaster … but the mainland lacks a system rather than money. I do not wish to see the money fall into the pockets of corrupt officials," Lau said.
The Hong Kong City-State Autonomy Movement (HKAM) has launched a letter-writing campaign to urge lawmakers not to approve the funding, while internet users of the popular Golden Forum on the internet set up a campaign called "Don't donate a single penny".
"There is no reason for the government to use taxpayers' money for a donation," HKAM said in a statement. "The Chinese government does not need money as it has a lot of financial reserves."
Hundreds of users left comments on the forum saying they would not give any money to the mainland and dismissed the official government donation.
"HK$100 million could be used in many better ways to help Hong Kong, rather than wasting it on the mainland bureaucracy," one user wrote. Another said: "I doubt that even one dollar in a 100 would really go to helping the victims."
Senior journalists familiar with mainland affairs also reminded Hongkongers to think twice before donating. They said some of the money raised five years ago was wasted on fancy meals and building unused roads. A HK$2 million secondary school was built with donations but torn down after 11 months to make way for luxury flats.
Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the party would support the donation, although he agreed that use of the funds must be strictly monitored.
HOW TO DONATE
By bank transfer:
Hang Seng Bank account number 286-364385-003
HSBC account number 018-554444-001
Bank of China (Hong Kong) account number 012-883-0-002502-5
HONG KONG RED CROSS
By bank transfer :
Hang Seng Bank account number 267-175123-001
HSBC account number 567-650155-016
Bank of China (Hong Kong) account number 012-806-0-000161-7
Bank of East Asia account number 514-40-39966-3
OXFAM HONG KONG
By bank transfer in Hong Kong:
HSBC account number 047-834668-001
Bank of China (Hong Kong) account number 012-874-0-010515-7
By bank transfer in Macau:
Bank of China Macau 01-01-20-840951
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