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More than half a million votes were cast for full democracy in Hong Kong by the second day of an unofficial online poll organized by activists and labeled illegal by China

Hong Kong Democracy Poll Gets Half a Million Votes by Second Day

By Natasha Khan June 21, 2014

More than half a million votes were cast for full democracy in Hong Kong by the second day of an unofficial online poll organized by activists and labeled illegal by China.

Since the city’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, a pro-Beijing committee has selected Hong Kong’s leader. China has promised some form of universal suffrage for the next chief executive election in 2017 with the caveat that candidates must be vetted. The poll, which began yesterday and runs until June 29, offers three chief executive election plans for voters to choose from, all involving a popular vote.

“I voted because I want the people of Hong Kong to be heard,” said a man who would only provide his surname, Ng, and said he was a 53-year-old architect. “Just because they don’t want to give me a voice doesn’t mean I shouldn’t express my opinions,” he said after voting online yesterday.

The referendum is being organized under the banner of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a group that has said it will hold a sit-in protest in the city’s financial district if electoral reforms don’t meet its demands. About 15 physical polling stations will be open for 12 hours tomorrow in churches, universities and training centers across the city.

The city’s government issued a statement yesterday saying that a civil referendum “does not exist in the Basic Law nor in Hong Kong’s domestic legislation, and has no legal effect.” The Basic Law is the city’s de-facto constitution.

Website Hacked

“This is a civil referendum organized by civil society, we never claimed that it has legal force,” said Benny Tai, an associate professor specializing in constitutional and administrative law at the University of Hong Kong and one of the organizers of the movement, by phone. “Any responsible government must at least respond to demands from such a substantial number of the community.”

The “PopVote” voting website, jointly run by divisions of two local universities, suffered “severe” distributed denial-of-service attacks, in which hackers flooded systems with information to shut them down, the poll organizers said in a statement dated June 19.

Despite the cyber attacks, the group’s previous highest estimate of 300,000 votes was surpassed within the first nine hours of the website opening, Tai said. Most of the votes were cast via the mobile application, and each had to be secured with individual Hong Kong identification card numbers and a mobile-phone number, according to the website.

As of 2:59 p.m. today, 500,436 votes were received, the website showed. Hong Kong had a population of 7.2 million people at the end of 2013, according to the census and statistics department.

Greedy Wife

Heightened tensions between the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong and Beijing has sparked a war of words in Chinese state-backed media.

On June 16, an opinion piece in China Daily likened the situation in Hong Kong to a fable about a greedy fisherman’s wife who wished for too much. Yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency called the referendum a “political farce,” saying it is not in line with Hong Kong’s Basic Law, citing the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council.

Hong Kong was granted its own legal system and autonomy over most matters for 50 years under a “One Country, Two Systems” policy after the U.K. returned the territory to China in 1997. Earlier this month, China’s State Council, its cabinet, issued a white paper asserting national interests above those of Hong Kong, saying some people are “confused or lopsided” in their understanding of the autonomy conferred on the southern city by the Chinese government.

Last night, in Hong Kong’s Central district, some Occupy Central activists led a sing-along in the early evening.

Their chosen song was “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables. “Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me,” the distributed lyrics, with Chinese translations, read. “Will you stand up and take your chance? The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of Hong Kong!”

To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at nkhan51@bloomberg.net

 

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KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (www.moatreport.com), a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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