Organizers of an anti-Occupy Central campaign have gathered more than 900,000 signatures including those of top Hong Kong government officials, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
Among the government signatories are Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng and Secretary for Development Paul Chan.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said they will sign as soon as they are available.
And Financial Secretary John Tsang said he will decide whether to sign in his personal capacity. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-Keung and Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung are on leave.
Lui Tai-lok, a sociology professor at the University of Hong Kong, said officials are free to support the signature drive but they should ensure their actions don’t compromise the openness and neutrality of the government.
Meanwhile, independent political commentator Johnny Lau compared the present sentiment in Hong Kong to that of the 1967 leftist riots and the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, so it is important not to repeat history, according to Apple Daily.
The signature campaign is intended to counter Occupy Central by tapping into Hong Kong’s so-called silent majority.
Organizers are trying to show strength in numbers after Occupy Central marshalled more than 700,000 participants in a mock referendum last month to demand more democracy in the 2017 election for the next Hong Kong chief executive.
The final election model will be decided by the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, in its upcoming session next month. The Hong Kong government is encouraging people to accept whatever form is offered by Beijing and take it from there, according to reports.
Lau said Hong Kong officials should not just ask Hong Kong people to “take whatever it is first” but also let people know what they’re being offered.
More than 810,000 signed up in the first eight days of the campaign, according to Robert Chow, a spokesperson for the pro-Beijing Alliance for Peace and Democracy. The alliance will meet with Carrie Lam to discuss its progress, Ming Pao said.
Benny Tai, a convenor of the Occupy Central movement, said the signature drive cannot drown out the voices of democracy in Hong Kong and people’s demands for real universal suffrage.
Occupy Central is planning a blockade of Hong Kong’s business and financial district if the final election scheme does not live up to its expectations.
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