Participants in the mass protest organized by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy on Sunday were given cash and other gifts amounting to HK$200 to HK$350 (US$25.80-45.15) each for taking part in the demonstration against the Occupy Central movement, according to reports by several local newspapers and television stations.
The reporters said members of the Federation of HK Guangxi Community Organization offered participants HK$200 each upon showing up at the march, as well as a gift pack of food items worth around HK$130, Apple Daily reported on Monday, citing undercover reporters who joined the march.
Participants could choose to leave after arriving at Victoria Park, the starting point of the march in Causeway Bay.
I-Cable TV also reported that the General Association of Hong Kong Heyuan Societies was believed to have offered participants up to HK$380 in cash.
An undercover reporter from pay-TV news channel now TV joined the Yancheng Chamber of Commerce and was given HK$200 and a free lunch.
An executive of the chamber, who treated 13 people to free lunch worth HK$2,000, said he used his own money to reward the unprivileged “patriots” who joined the march.
According to a Ming Pao Daily report, other associations such as the Federation of Hong Kong Shenzhen Associations offered free meals for participants before the march.
Many restaurants in Causeway Bay also reported full capacity. Tour buses were also seen streaming into Victoria Park, reportedly bringing people from across the border.
Alliance for Peace and Democracy convenor Robert Chow said more than 190,000 people joined the march on Sunday, but some critics questioned if the number would have been the same if the sponsors did not offer free food and cash.
Chow vowed to take action if some participants were paid to join the march.
Although the demonstrators filled several soccer fields at Victoria Park, many were spotted to be just passing through. Some seniors told reporters that the nearby Tin Hau MTR station was their destination.
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