Free meals and other treats for anti-Occupy Central marchers defended
Meals, transport, other perks called acceptable for next Sunday's march
Organisers of a movement opposing Occupy Central say it is acceptable to provide free rides and meals to motivate people to join its march next Sunday.
In a bid to attract New Territories villagers, the movement, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, staged a rally at the headquarters of powerful rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk yesterday.
Meanwhile moderates urged pro-establishment and pan-democrat activists to break the stalemate over political reform.
Robert Chow Yung, spokesman for the alliance, said: "It'll be wrong to blame the organisers for arranging for coaches and lunch boxes for the marchers. It's wrong to say this amount [would] buy [people's participation]."
Chow was responding to a news report by Apple Daily that the New Home Association, backed by Beijing-friendly tycoons, was offering a day tour next Sunday to families of new arrivals who live in Tin Shui Wai, which would cost them HK$20 and includes a museum trip, lunch and "an activity on Hong Kong Island". The association's poster did not say what the activity was but staff told reporters over the phone that it was the anti-Occupy march.
The alliance expects 82,300 will turn up for the march from Victoria Park to Central.
"We won't stand aside and see people paralyse Hong Kong's economy … See you in Victoria Park!" kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat said to the applause of hundreds of villagers who filled the kuk's meeting hall.
The national legislature is expected to lay down a framework for reforming the 2017 election for Hong Kong's chief executive.
The Hong Kong government has asked people to accept a "one person, one vote" election first, even if the nomination method may not be the most desirable - a point reiterated by Basic law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu, who warned yesterday that "if there's no universal suffrage in 2017, some government officials told me we may have to wait for another 10 years".
Also yesterday, former commerce minister Frederick Ma Si-hang said he would not sign the alliance's anti-Occupy petition as he did not want to see Hong Kong polarised.
He also said he would not want to see a disturbance similar to the 1967 riots, which were triggered by workers' strikes.
Two of 39 moderates who signed another petition for consensus on reform, lawmaker Chan Yuen-han and Tai Hay-lap, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, urged pan-democrats to end their confrontation and negotiate. But Cheung Man-kwong, a core member of the Democratic Party, said it would rely on both social movements and negotiation, "because without the former, any dialogue will lack a basis and power".
Occupy Central plans to blockade Central streets if proposed electoral reforms are unsatisfactory.