A rapidly rising pro-government group has revealed for the first time that it has more than 3,000 members, with native Hongkongers making up most of its 30-strong core membership.
The Voice of Loving Hong Kong had not accepted funding from the Hong Kong administration, central government or Beijing-affiliated companies, and its members had not accepted cash for attending any protest, convenor Patrick Ko Tat-pun said.
The group is among a number of pro-establishment organisations that have regularly protested at activities held by pro-democracy groups over the past few months. A fortnight ago, the Voice of Loving Hong Kong forced a halt to a universal suffrage public forum held by the Alliance for True Democracy.
Yesterday, Ko said their members were often "misunderstood" and insisted their actions were not driven by money. "We always want to be rational and constructive," he told reporters.
None of their members belonged to the Communist Party, he said, though some might have connections to Beijing-loyalist groupings such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions.
Ko presented the accounts of the group, which was registered last year. He said the biggest donation so far was only HK$18,000 and the funding came mostly from individuals.
"We have absolutely not been receiving money from the Hong Kong government, the central government, or any mainland-funded organisation," he said.
Ko said he was not worried about the group holding a seminar on April 28, titled "The relationship between the chief executive election and the central government", despite its own members abusing participants during the alliance's forum.
"Most Hongkongers are rational, while a small fraction may lose control of their emotions [sometimes]. It is normal for them to stand on the table [to express their opinions]," he said. "It is all right as long as they use their mouths and not their fists."
He reiterated that "democracy is not a core value for Hong Kong people … Democratic elections and the spirit of democracy are separate ideas."
A representative of the alliance is to attend the seminar.