• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 3:32pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 3:43am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 9:25am

Pan-democrats' protest numbers don't add up...


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Pan-democrats' protest numbers don't add up ...

Do numbers matter? They do, if you use them to advance your cause. Here are some numbers: organisers of the July 1 protest march insist 510,000 people joined.

The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme put the maximum turnout at 172,000.

The police figure was 98,600.

This newspaper's own study showed 140,408 took part.

Believe what you want to believe. But if you choose a number, do it honestly. Everyone at the pan-democratic camp, from Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing to Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit, have insisted on radio and television and in the newspapers that 510,000 took part.

If you hear something often enough, you are brainwashed into believing it is true. That is why most people now believe more than half a million marched last week. Public Eye wants to know this: does the camp doubt the 172,000 figure put out by HKU's POP?

The same people - Chan, Lau and Leong - all insisted in the mass media that 800,000 people voted in the unofficial referendum on universal suffrage last month. And who did the counting? Why, it was the programme's researchers. Does that mean the camp does not believe in the programme's protest turnout figure, but believes in its "referendum" figures?

If so, surely we must all doubt the accuracy of anything the programme does. Or is the camp cherry-picking numbers that suit its political agenda best?


… but Beijing won't be spooked by the maths

Public Eye was mystified as to why the central government chose to issue its politically explosive white paper on "one country, two systems" at the worst possible time, ahead of the unofficial referendum on universal suffrage and the July 1 march.

Surely, we thought, the stern wording of the policy document on Hong Kong would provoke even more people into taking part in both activities. But we are no longer mystified. Public Eye believes the bosses in Beijing deliberately timed the release of the white paper to gauge the worst-case scenario of hostility towards the central government.

Now they know, depending on which numbers they believe. At worst, 510,000 joined the march and 800,000 voted.

The word now going around is that Beijing believes the HKU POP number of 172,000 for the march and that only about half of the 800,000 said to have voted in the "referendum" are genuine votes. Still, are they large enough numbers to spook Beijing? Unlikely.


Reform talks need a middleman, if one exists

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the pan-democratic camp loathe each other so much that the two sides no longer even talk. Any attempt at dialogue deteriorates into a shouting match.

How then can they strike a reform deal with time fast running out? What they need is a middleman with the clout to sit the two sides down and make them talk like grown-ups. With the city now so polarised, does such a person even exist?


The dark truth behind school's abandonment

To all those who have been moaning about the eventual demise of St Margaret's Girls' College: save your breath. The government doesn't give a darn. You know why? The school is top-heavy with so-called ethnic minorities - the local lingo for darker-skinned people, even though Westerners are also an ethnic minority in Hong Kong.

If St Margaret's was full of Westerners or mainland children, you can bet education officials would be rushing to save it. Does anyone hear the deafening silence from the Equal Opportunities Commission?

Michael Chugani is a columnist and television show host. mickchug@gmail.com


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This article is now closed to comments

One needs a brain in order to perform simple math functions. The Pro Dem desperately needs one.
The turnout at 510,000 people joining the July 1 protest claimed by the organizer is nothing more than a political plot, I think. As only God know the accurate turnout, it is unlikely to prove which statistic, the organizer’s, the police’s or the HKU’s, should be most convincing. The best way to turn a rumor to a truth is to keep spreading the rumor until no one declines to believe it. Is it like brainwashing?
I believe neither the statistic of the organizer nor that of the police. The HKU ‘s one and SCMP’s one, I think, are more convincing and objective.
Would it possible to get all mobile phone companies to give a total number of cellular pings in and around the protest marching area to determine an approximate number of cell phones?
It should be quite easy for the mobile phone companies to map out the entire path and do snapshots at hourly intervals, counting the unique cellphone IDs throughout the march.
Assuming 80% of all marchers had cell phones on them, this should give a good estimate as to the overall number throughout the day.
hard times !
Michael might have forgotten that once Leung Chun-ying privately (at his mansion on the Peak) told his close friends (including Lau Mong-hung who aided him heavily at his election campaign but was kicked out later) that the contradiction within the establishment camp was one within people's yet the contradiction with the pan-democrats was one that was against enemies which should be dealt with heavy hands and no mercy at all ----now C.Y. has clearly shown it !
I have brainwashed myself into believing the figure of 510000 was made up to just exceedhalf a million which is widely believed to be the figure for the 2003 July 1 March. The pan-dems simply want the figure to show discontent is even greater than that year with the main issue being article 23. The Police also came up with a figure of 98,600 slightly short of a 6-figure turnout. Coincidence? Nope, both figures are manipulated. At least I have brainwashed myself into thinking so.
Hmmm...a middleman? Who might that be? Oh yeah! That CCP guy running around border cities "listening" to the common HKer like a good Xi Jinping protegé in a bun shop...
In HK it is not uncommon for an idividual to have more than one phone. I myself have 2 & my friend have 3. Also some do not have any. But your idea is innovative.
it will at best be an estimate, but it would still be more accurate then how they are counting now.
Another option would be to setup turnstiles at various points along the route.


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