Organizers of Sunday’s anti-Occupy Central march dismissed media reports that participants were paid to join the protest, Ming Pao Daily reported on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press briefing, convenor Robert Chow said the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, the main organizer of the march, spent less than HK$10 million (US$1.29 million) on the event, with all funds contributed by various individuals and organizations supporting the cause.
Chow admitted that some groups gave cash rewards to members who attended the mass action, but said they did that on their own.
He cited the General Association of Hong Kong Heyuan Societies as an example, saying there was sufficient video evidence to show that it had paid people to join in the march. Therefore, the alliance has decided to subtract the 200 participants from Heyuan Societies from the master record of official marchers, Chow said.
Chow said the alliance welcomes complaints and invites retired police officers to help investigate such complaints.
He stressed there is no legal responsibility in paying people to join a public activity, and the alliance can only criticize such behavior from a moral standpoint, according to the newspaper.
Cable TV News, one of the media groups that reported that marchers were given cash and free lunch, said its reports were based on first-hand observation and interviews by its reporters who covered the event.
To Yiu-ming, assistant professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication, said media have done their part in reporting what happened during the Sunday march, even presenting video clips and photos to back up their claims. It was up to Chow and his group to provide counter evidence that the reports were wrong.
Ma Ngok, assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said despite objective reports suggesting that pro-establishment groups gave money for people to join the march, there was little Chow could do as a convenor.
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