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  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 10:41am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

'X' marks the spot: Illiterate villagers boost Anti-Occupy Central signature campaign

Campaigners take petition denouncing the movement to rural Tai Po, and Benny Tai hits back - saying democracy message cannot be ignored

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 5:52pm

Organisers of an anti-Occupy Central petition ventured into rural Tai Po district yesterday, hoping to rally support from indigenous villagers.

The entourage - targeting the villages of Sam Mun Tsai, Tai Mei Tuk and Lung Mei - was led by Alliance for Peace and Democracy spokesman Robert Chow Yung and included Tai Po district councillors and other pro-Beijing figures.

Chow described as a "world record" the 930,000 signatures opposing the civil disobedience movement collected so far, and said it reflected public opinion.

But Occupy Central co-organiser Benny Tai Yiu-ting hit back yesterday, saying no matter how many people signed the petition, the demands of those seeking genuine universal suffrage could not be ignored.

It came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Saturday added his signature to the petition, saying he opposed "illegal means to achieve any goals on political reform". Yesterday, Tai said: "If they think balancing out [Occupy's 'referendum' on reform] with a signature will make [these views] disappear, then they are just deceiving themselves."

He said it was legal for officials to sign the anti-Occupy petition, but criticised Leung, saying he did not have a clear understanding of what Occupy was about.

Chow said Leung was just expressing his "personal views" and that officials of all stripes were welcome to do the same.

At least five high-level officials have signed the petition so far, among them health chief Dr Ko Wing-man, Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim and development chief Paul Chan Mo-po. Chow denied any officials had been approached to sign and said they had all done so in a personal capacity.

About 780,000 Hongkongers voted in the pro-democracy movement's unofficial plebiscite last month. All three proposals included public nomination.

Meanwhile, the media descended on the three sleepy villages yesterday, as locals - some elderly, illiterate, or indifferent to politics - were invited to show their support for the alliance. Those who couldn't sign their names were told an "X" would suffice. "I actually don't know what the Occupy Central movement is about," Sam Mun Tsai shopkeeper Cheung Wing-wah said after signing the petition. He nodded when asked by the campaigners if he wanted a "stable and prosperous Hong Kong".

Others were motivated by patriotism. "We Hakka people oppose Occupy Central because we love our country and our home," said Wong Bak-sing, 76, former village chief of Tai Mei Tuk.

But on Hong Kong Island, protesters targeted five of the alliance's booths in Causeway Bay and Central. "They chanted slogans against us. Some people who wanted to sign the petition were scared off," said alliance spokesman Stanley Ng Chau-pei.

Protester Leung Kam-shing said many of the people who were signing didn't know what the petition was about.

The pro-Beijing alliance has begun a one-month campaign to denounce the Occupy Central movement, which plans to rally protesters to block the main roads in Central if the government fails to offer a reform plan for the 2017 chief executive race that it deems satisfactory.

"Everyone's objective - including the government and the pan-democrats - is the same, and that is universal suffrage," Chow said. "The only difference is in method."

The alliance will report the results of the campaign to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor today.

Additional reporting by Phila Siu


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This article is now closed to comments

LOL People signing petitions because they support a stable HongKong. What a bunch of morons.
Don't you?
I can imagine how Benny-Tai's ego shattered, an ego that has been much puffered up after he declared victory on mustering 700K supporters on a virtual digital platform. Now this digital number is nothing when the opposite camp comes up with a near million supporters in black-and-white real world paper each with a real signature, not just some 0 and 1 bits. He may be living in an ivory tower, but may be also working all the time with some ulterior agenda, or may be just an hero-wannabe. Two other organisers have been exposed to have received money from Lie, Benny Tai should come up to declare something.
double post deleted
If you think Benny is the only one in an ivory tower then you've got your head in the sand.
Ant Lee
i would never trust the pro-beijing camps to do any surveys.
..and you trust the organizer of the Occupy protest who lied that half a million turned out for the protest when in fact only around 100,000 people attended, not forgetting the bulk of those who 'attended' were actually curious bystanders, tourists, maids and even the small kids.
What's wrong with illiterate villagers voting? "One Person One Vote" regardless illiterate or disable. They can think. They can express their opinions too. SCMP reporters should rescind the headlines and apologize.
I find it funny to note Benny Tai Yiu-ting is reported as saying that Leung did not know what Occupy was about. To me, Occupy means occupy. It seeks to occupy the main roads in Central to block up all traffic, in order to make a point about how one camp thinks democracy should progress in Hong Kong.
People who signed the present poll simply did not think the means is correct as it causes chaos in Hong Kong and the Central Government will never agree to their demand which is against the Basic Law. I think if they are so determined to express their view, it is much better for them go to donate blood to the Red Cross and show they are willing to "shed blood" for their cause. Hong Kong will forever be grateful to them.
Also Benny should take note of what's happening in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and of course Ukraine....the wonders of tyranny of the masses - something they don't teach you in political science textbooks......




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