Older crowd turns out for anti-Occupy Central signature campaign
Movements' demographic divide clear as signature campaign starts up
The generation gap was as stark as the political divide between those who signed up to oppose Occupy Central yesterday and those who voted in last month's unofficial referendum by the pro-democracy movement.
Grey hair predominated as the Alliance for Peace and Democracy kicked off its signature drive calling for the achievement of universal suffrage by 2017 in a "peaceful and non-violent manner" without occupying Central.
Most of those the Sunday Morning Post observed at four booths in Jordan, To Kwa Wan, Central and Causeway Bay were elderly or middle-aged.
And while many expressed concern about Occupy Central's plan to block streets for democracy, others did not seem quite sure just what they were signing up to.
"It's about my own interests," said Cheung Tak-kan, 56, as he signed the petition at a booth in Queen's Road Central, not far from the jewellery shop he runs. "The sit-in will make tourists feel we are chaotic and this will affect my business."
Occupy Central's poll, which attracted 800,000 mostly younger voters last month, was confined to permanent residents. But the signature campaign was less stringent. People signing up at the 468 stations across the city are asked for identity card numbers along with their names. Children and non-residents may also join.
Cheung's nephew from Fujian signed it - as did a Taiwanese woman who admitted never having heard of Occupy Central. She was unable to describe the purpose of the campaign, saying she "only knew it was about peace".
At the Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium in Jordan, a Post reporter managed to sign two forms within 45 minutes without volunteers noticing.
The volunteers also ignored organisers' instructions to ask people whether they had given their names before, and accepted any forms after a quick check of the identity cards. A similar scene unfolded at Jardine's Crescent in Causeway Bay.
But for some, all that mattered was the principles: a desire to prevent illegal activities and to secure political reform.
Nick Allen, 59, who has lived in Hong Kong since 1985, said he believed that it was possible to get a fair and democratic election for chief executive in 2017 by negotiation.
The accountant said the Occupy referendum, which put forward three models by which the public would choose candidates, "did not provide broad enough choices and was not fair".