The Hong Kong Army Cadets Association (HKACA), which was officially inaugurated Sunday, was formed in just 45 days during the Occupy Central protests, Apple Daily reported Wednesday, citing pro-establishment sources.
They said the HKACA was conceived by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong long ago, but it was only in September that the pro-establishment camp officially began preparatory work, and a plan for the group was hashed out only last month.
Scholarism convener Joshua Wong Chi-fung said he was convinced that the setting up of HKACA was a move by Beijing to nurture more pro-government youth in Hong Kong.
Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was asked Tuesday if the HKACA was the central government’s idea.
He told reporters a resource center set up by his wife has been sending about 200 students every year to the mainland for a 15-day military training program.
There were more than 3,000 participants over the last decade, and the demand for the program has been growing, Tung said.
He said students gained understanding of their homeland in the process, and his granddaughter was among those who had joined the program.
Tung called for the media to look at the HKACA in a positive light and said it would be a good thing if the organization expands.
Bunny Chan, the group’s president, said its registration as an association was approved only on Thursday.
He said the group asked the People’s Liberation Army to provide a free venue for the inauguration ceremony, as it wanted to save costs.
Chan said the students at the ceremony were only given uniforms and still need to fill in an application form and obtain the consent of their parents before they can become members of the HKACA.
He said reports that the students were forced to join the group were untrue.
Chan also denied that the HKACA uniform was the same color as the PLA uniform. He said it was, in fact, a lighter shade of green.
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