Occupy Central

Some Hongkongers greet democratic reform poll with ambivalence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 4:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

As the so-called civil referendum on democratic reforms gathered steam yesterday, some Hongkongers chose to give it the cold shoulder.

Some dismissed the campaign - which Beijing has called "illegal" - as a farce, while others said they did not have confidence in the voting system.

In Causeway Bay, office worker Peter Tam said he and his family had boycotted the unofficial vote and instead spent yesterday shopping.

"All Hong Kong people support democracy. But do we have to achieve it by following what those Occupy Central elements tell us to do? Does democracy mean all of us should only listen to them?" asked Tam, 51.

Occupy Central has threatened to shut down Hong Kong's financial district by mobilising 10,000 people to stage a sit-in at the business hub in an effort to force Beijing to give Hong Kong what the movement considers a "true democratic system", specifics of which the unofficial referendum will determine.

Denise Kwok, a trading company manager, said: "I support the pan-democrats' fight for democracy. But it is wrong to do so by occupying Central. It is a path to hell even if it is paved with good intentions. It will only lead Hong Kong to mayhem."

A 70-year-old grandmother said she chose not to participate in the poll because she did not fully understand the three options put up for voting.

"By 2017, I can't even be sure I'll still be alive," she added. "The younger generation can decide the future for themselves."

Fong Man-wai, a freelance designer, said he did not care about politics.

For university student Douglas Choi, 20, snubbing the poll had nothing to do with apathy. "I don't exactly trust this survey as it is not official," said Choi, who also expressed concerns over reported cyberattacks and identity verification problems.

Polling in the unofficial referendum, conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, was extended by a week to Sunday after claims the voting website had come under a "world-class" cyberattack on the opening day last Friday.

Some questioned the reliability of the poll results after media reports that it was possible to vote with a fake identity.

Earlier yesterday, about 15 members of the pro-government Caring Hong Kong Power rallied outside the polling centre at the Professional Teachers' Union office in Causeway Bay. They asked people not to take part in what they called illegal voting.

They waved placards that read, "Voting means you support Hong Kong independence", and "Think before you vote; you are sending others' children to the battlefield".

Outside the government headquarters, Leticia Lee See-yin, a core member of an anti-Occupy Central group Justice Alliance started a hunger strike in protest at the campaign, which she said amounted to "encouraging people to break the law".

She was unhappy that the government was doing little to stop it. "We feel very frustrated that some Hong Kong people thought they could turn something illegal into [something] lawful by voting to support it."