'Youth will drive democracy fight,' says media mogul Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai sees strong turnout for July 1 march and says his paper's campaign prompted threats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:46pm

Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying thinks he knows why he has been subjected to bizarre threats in recent weeks - he says it's all about democracy.

It started on June 19, when the front gate of his house was rammed with a stolen car, and a man left an axe and machete in his driveway.

A week later, two masked men torched copies of the newspaper he owns, the Chinese-language Apple Daily, on board a delivery truck after forcing a pair of workers to leave the vehicle.

Lai suspects it has something to do with Monday's annual July 1 protest march, which he says could draw a crowd of more than 500,000 this year. "Our paper has been promoting democracy," Lai said in a radio interview yesterday. "Some people are angry about this. They think fighting for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong is against their principle of 'loving Hong Kong'."

He said he was not worried about the incidents because he did not believe they were serious.

Nor was he afraid of being jailed, he said, adding that he would participate in the Occupy Central protest next year, along with Democratic Party founder Martin Lee Chu-ming and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.

"The purpose of occupying Central is to be put in jail," he said. "We could stay in it until Hong Kong realises universal suffrage. Let them lock up Hong Kong's conscience."

The movement will blockade Central district in July next year if the government has not come up with a satisfactory plan to bring in universal suffrage for the chief executive poll in 2017.

Lai said he was proud of the city's youth and their sense of morality and responsibility, and they would be the driving force in the fight for universal suffrage.

"I think a lot of young people will join the march [on Monday]," he said.

"If we really love Hong Kong and love our next generation, we should come out and march."

He also urged executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing to join the march this year.

Separately, 14 tertiary student groups have said they will band together with universal suffrage as their theme for the march - to press for democracy in academic institutions, education reform and a bigger share of land and resources. "We're not trying to bring down any individual leader, but to change the whole political system," said Johannie Tong Hiu-yan of the Federation of Social Work Students.

City University's student union chartered a bus for the event and it was fully booked, said president Max Lee Ho-yin. "We are confident a large number of students will join the march," he said. Another bus may be hired.