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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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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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