Yaan earthquake

Party paper claims most Hong Kong people back Sichuan quake aid

People's Daily attacks earthquake donation delay but opponents vow to stay firm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 8:04am

A Communist Party mouthpiece weighed into the HK$100 million Sichuan quake relief controversy yesterday, claiming that only "a minority of Hong Kong people" were against the donation.

The article in yesterday's overseas edition of People's Daily comes amid government plans to make a second application for the funding to the Legislative Council's special financial committee on Friday.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's plan for a HK$100 million donation to Sichuan's earthquake victims was delayed last week amid concerns that the funds could be misused by corrupt mainland officials.

Titled "Can their arguments stand?", People's Daily quoted a Wen Wei Po piece accusing some opponents of politicising the donation, as well as the South China Morning Post's leader on April 24 titled "Don't let doubts halt quake aid".

It also cited Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's appeals for lawmakers' support.

"No one in Hong Kong questioned the aid to Japan after the earthquake in 2011, even though Japan is a rich country. Whether or not the recipient is wealthy is not a necessary consideration for a donation," the article said.

"Irresponsible critics aimed to add fuel to the fire [of the cross-border tensions].

"Blood is thicker than water. We believe our Hong Kong compatriots will not fall into the traps of these people."

People's Daily also said that by last Friday the liaison office in the city had received donations of more than HK$150 million and 10,000 tins of baby formula.

The government has enough backing from pro-establishment parties to pass the funding application, but it was still not clear whether a vote would be tabled on Friday amid the controversy.

The pan-democrats have said they will not support any government-to-government donation, and others have threatened to mount a filibuster.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the People's Daily article was an attempt to pressure the legislature. "But it is meaningless as the pan-democrats will not change their stance. The key to the problem is graft," Lee said.

Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said quake relief was an urgent issue and it could send the wrong signal to the mainland if the donation was not passed promptly.