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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 2:09pm
Occupy Central
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Half a million Hongkongers vote as Occupy Central defends 'credible' poll on 2017 election

Occupy Central rejects accusations that unofficial referendum on 2017 vote is unlawful

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 5:53pm
 

More than half a million Hongkongers had voted in Occupy Central's unofficial poll on electoral reform by midnight last night, as protest leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting said the controversial plebiscite was "lawful and credible''.

The high turnout came despite a warning on the PopVote website that the "system is under severe attack, only limited service is provided". The voting platform first came under cyberattack when irt was launched on Friday.

By 10am today the number of voters tipped 573,000.

Today the so-called referendum on how Hong Kong should elect its chief executive in 2017 - which opened for online voters at noon on Friday - starts to gather paper ballots at 15 locations across the city.

One polling station will remain open throughout the week, with about 10 more to be added on the final day of voting next Sunday.

Responding to an accusation from the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office that the plebiscite was "unlawful" and not legally binding, Tai said: "I cannot see anything we are doing now is unlawful. If the Chinese authorities say we are doing something unlawful, please point out which acts are unlawful. Are we subject to any criminal liability, and if yes, why not arrest me now?"

"They [the office] have insufficient understanding of the law and rule of law in Hong Kong," Tai said, adding that having no legal basis and being illegal were different concepts and that the poll was protected by civil and political rights guaranteed by the Basic Law.

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the "turnout cannot turn a proposal from being incompatible with the Basic Law to being compatible".

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong noted that the poll was a way for the public to express their opinion, though he denied it had any legal basis as a referendum. "If there is a clear stance with clear grounds, the government should listen and analyse it regardless of the number of people who expressed that view," he said.

By midnight, 560,089 people had voted online by giving their identity card and mobile phone numbers for verification. Each phone number can be used once only. There are 3.5 million registered voters, but participants in this poll do not need to be on the electoral roll.

The turnout was more than double that in a two-day mock election organised by the University of Hong Kong in 2012, when 223,000 people voted to have their say on who the chief executive should be, while the actual election was decided by a 1,193-strong committee.

Tai said organisers had received reports by people whose ID numbers had been used to vote without their knowledge.

Pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao yesterday suggested that a possible flaw in the system which might allow vote manipulation was to use a website that can generate valid ID card numbers and then to vote with new mobile phone SIM cards.

Co-organiser of Occupy Central Dr Chan Kin-man acknowledged the system was not perfect, but noted that it would be a costly exercise to arrange for thousands of new SIM cards to make an impact on the poll results. "You can see so many people in the streets or in the train are talking about the vote. We believe the turnout rate is credible," Tai added.

A solution for those who failed to vote online was to go to the polls and cast a paper ballot, which would override the online vote for that ID number, he said.

The poll asks two questions. In the first, voters pick from three proposals for the 2017 chief executive election put forward by civil groups. In the second, voters say if the legislature should veto a future government proposal if it does not satisfy international democratic standards. They can abstain on both questions.

The poll is conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme. Occupy Central organisers say they do not interfere in the poll's operation. The poll's website and smartphone app survived what organisers called a "world-class intrusion", a massive distributed denial of service attack of more than 300 gigabits per second at its peak on Friday.

The programme's chief pollster, Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, said if there were doubts about the turnout, an independent organisation could be appointed to investigate, adding that he believed the design was reasonable and cautious.

Asked whether the government would listen to the opinion of half a million people, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated that the administration "has always valued public opinion", just before he dismissed a key issue in Occupy's poll.

"We hope to achieve universal suffrage in 2017, but the prerequisite is that it has to comply with the Basic Law and the decision of the [national legislature], and the Law Society and Bar Association had said that 'public nomination' doesn't fit into the Basic Law," Leung said.

Each of the proposals - put forward by the Alliance for True Democracy, People Power and a joint one by Scholarism and the Federation of Students - calls for the public to be able to nominate candidates for the 2017 election, a demand Beijing rejects.

A police spokesman said the force would monitor the situation at polling stations today.

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38

This article is now closed to comments

kyoto
I am all for democracy and the freedom to vote. But when I entered into the website, I found my only choice was to agreed with the radicals or abstain. That's not democracy ! Where's the I disagreed with occupy central vote?
leeyankam
While this poll is not a perfect one, I think one has to admit, if not admire, it takes a lot of courage and commitment to provide a platform that is otherwise unavailable for Hong kong people to express their views and to demonstrate how we do value this freedom.
321manu
There is a certain delicious irony about the CCP trying to throw down and show Hkers who's boss, with her white paper, and instead invigorating HKers to show up en masse and rescue the referendum that had real danger of becoming irrelevant due to Occupy's own missteps in the lead-up.
This is the latest example of the CCP excelling at shooting herself in the foot.
And man, does the CCP know what HKers want, or what? They seem perfectly positioned to run HK from here on out, being tapped into the pulse of the city and all that.
pjp
I agree with Kyoto, I too wanted to vote but don't agree with their radical plans. Abstain? I wonder if the OC people can see the irony in this poll, we can only go with what they have decided we should go with. I think they have seriously shot themselves in the foot with this which is a crying shame.
Paradox314
kyoto, the poll is not about Occupy Central, it is about which tabled democratic option one supports. If one doesn't support democracy for HK, then presumably one won't vote (and that will be a vote).
kyoto
Here is question 1 of the voting : "For CE Election 2017, I support OCLP to submit this proposal to the Government:
1. Alliance for True Democracy Proposal
2.People Power Proposal
3. Student Proposal
4. Abstention
Now, tell me with a straight face OCLP has nothing to do with occupy Central movement? That the entire "choices" are not either with us or Abstention? What sort of democracy you call this voting?
Paradox314
The vote to abstain would be a vote that supports some democratic model not represented by the 3 options. Not voting at all is a vote against democracy.
ejmciii
Agreed it is not perfect and thank you Beijing for making sure your tools were out in force to show weaknesses. So here is a compromise, Beijing. Let us choose our own leaders and see how HK people feel about your control of their minds and lives. Wait, that is exactly what the masters will not allow of the slaves. So you give no option to us but to follow your edicts, which is exactly why we are stuck with these non-binding proposals to manifest our displeasure. You could cut the irony with a knife.
wgmhk
But wouldn't the readers need to be sure this is indeed HK people expressing their views?
impala
Once. No.

The website requires a voter to submit his/her HKID number and a valid HK phone number. The site then uses this phone number to send an SMS with a confirmation code, which needs to be entered on the website again to validate the vote.

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