Joshua Wong’s Demosisto raises most money at Hong Kong’s July 1 march but traditional pro-democracy groups fall behind
Two other parties set up in the past seven years – Democracy Groundwork and People Power – also upped their takings
Activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung’s Demosisto party raised HK$530,000 (US$67,950) at the July 1 march to mark Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule 21 years ago, making it the top fundraiser among seven pro-democracy groups at the annual event.
Two other parties set up in the past seven years – Democracy Groundwork and People Power – also upped their takings, while four others, mostly traditional pan-democrat groups founded in 2011 and before, took in less money.
Democracy Groundwork, led by disqualified lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, saw a 45 per cent increase in donations, receiving HK$276,000.
The July 1 march is one of the most important fundraising opportunities for the many pro-democracy groups in the city.
Apart from established political parties, smaller groups such as Community March and Civil Rights Observer also set up booths along the march’s route to gather funds on Sunday.
Parties are supposed to pay the march’s organiser, Civil Human Rights Front, an umbrella group of about 50 pro-democracy outfits, 10 per cent of the donations received to help with the cost of organising the event.
According to information gathered from the groups, Demosisto was the most successful in the fundraising effort this year, receiving HK$530,000 compared with HK$430,000 last year, a 23 per cent increase.
That was despite the march’s turnout dropping to a three-year low, from 66,000 last year to about 50,000 on Sunday, according to the front’s estimates.
Ivan Lam Long-yin, chairman of Demosisto, co-founded by Occupy movement icon Joshua Wong, said he was satisfied with the results, noting that the group had gone through a change of leadership in May, and lost its sole representative in the Legislative Council last November.
“We lost our platform in the Legislative Council,” Lam said. “This shows that the public still supports us.”
The group’s former chairman, Nathan Law Kwun-chun, was among six pro-democracy lawmakers kicked out of Legco for improper oath taking.
Chinese University of Hong Kong political scientist Ma Ngok said Demosisto and Democracy Groundwork received more donations out of “sympathy”.
“The reason was because of the disqualification of two lawmakers from the two groups,” Ma said.
He believed the overall amount of donations was similar to last year, but could have been affected by the lower turnout.
Demosisto would use the funds to continue the group’s “Decoding Hong Kong’s History” campaign – an archival research project that looks into declassified documents related to Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, according to Lam.
He said it would also use the money for attending international conferences and funding its work on producing material related to societal issues, such as the proposed national anthem law.
Despite the good results for newer groups, traditional pan-dems raised less money than last year.
The League of Social Democrats, which has recently seen a number of its core members embroiled in court cases, received HK$460,000, 9 per cent less than last year.
Others, including the Civic Party, Democratic Party and Labour Party, also saw a decline in donations.
People Power, however, saw a 13 per cent increase this year, taking in HK$180,000.
The front itself received HK$230,000 in donations – up from HK$175,000 in 2017.
Lau of Democracy Groundwork announced last week that she was “actively considering” running in an upcoming Legco by-election in November.
“The response was great on Sunday … There is still some time ahead of the by-election, and it has been a good start,” Lau said on Monday, adding that she felt “encouraged”.
She was seen chanting “we don’t fear Ko Wing-man” on Sunday.
There was speculation that Ko, a popular former health minister, would run in the by-election, representing the pro-establishment camp. Lau could be running against him for the Kowloon West constituency seat she lost last November, also due to the oath-taking row.