“VvT4” among fake names as credibility of Hong Kong anti-independence online petition in doubt

It reportedly collected 100,000 signatures in past week but credibility in question due to lack of identity checks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 10:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

An online petition against Hong Kong independence initiated by 13 government-friendly groups has reportedly collected more than 100,000 signatures in the past week.

But the campaign’s credibility is in question over the lax way it is being conducted, with no proof of identity required so people can use any name, even fake ones, and still be included in the petition.

Political scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah of the Polytechnic University said: “It is more a political publicity show. No one would take it seriously.”

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Theonline petition at www.2017.org.hk is initiated by the All Hong Kong Anti-independence Online Concern Group. Those in support of it include pro-government groups such as the Kowloon Federation of Associations, the New Territories Association of Societies, and the Silent Majority – a core member in the alliance that held events to counter the Occupy Central campaign.

On the petition’s webpage are three slogans in Chinese that read: “Calls for independence ruin rule of law, hinder development [and] cause troubles to ourselves. Hong Kong does not need independence, Hong Kong does not want mayhem. Oppose pro-independence acts and its supporters.”

If a person supports the slogans, he can sign up by simply putting in a name and filling in the authentication code.

It was unknown how the campaigners differentiated false names from real ones. Tests by the South China Morning Post found fake names such as “vvT4” or “Jiang Zemin” could get through.

According to a report by pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po yesterday, nearly 110,000 signatures had been collected in about a week. The names are not made public.

The newspaper also quoted a campaign spokesman as saying he was pleased with the response.

Chung doubted the claims and said: “A more meaningful way to do an online vote or signature campaign is to ask one to input his ID number and then a code will be sent to his phone before his vote or signature can be counted.”

Attempts by the Post to reach the campaign organisers failed. Messages with inquiries sent to the e-mail addresson the webpage were bounced back.

Robert Chow Yung, who founded Silent Majority and is a spokesman for anti-Occupy group Alliance for Peace and Democracy, declined to comment on the petition. “We oppose the calls for ... independence. And we have nothing further to say.”