Pro-establishment groups have claimed that more than 100,000 people signed up on an anti-independence online petition, citing the signatures as evidence that separatist elements do not enjoy popular support in the city.
Alexa Yau, a spokesperson for the online campaign, told pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po that there were over 130,000 registrations since the online signature collection began on August 10.
Taking out some 29,000 records that were received from the same IP addresses or registered under peculiar names, the number of valid signatures totaled 107,412, he said.
The success of the online petition shows how the public is opposed to groups advocating Hong Kong independence, Yau suggested.
The online petition was initiated by pro-establishment groups such as Silent Majority and Kowloon Federation of Associations and Facebook groups such as “Salute to HK Police” and “Support HK Police”.
Although the establishment groups are boasting about huge response, some observers are skeptical about the claims, suggesting that many of the signatures may be fake or duplicated.
According to news website hk01.com, when its reporters attempted to sign up for the campaign online, they discovered that they could register with just about any name, be it Edward Leung Tin-kei or Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Two years ago during the Umbrella Movement, pro-establishment groups claimed they collected over 800,000 signatures from the public within three days.
It was said that they were able to amass some 148,530 signatures from physical street stations in a day, plus some 30,700 signatures from online channels. However, media reports pointed out that one could register with any fake name, such as C. Ronaldo or Yellow Ribbon.
That was because the campaign organizers didn’t require proof of identity, which appears to be the same case even now.
But Yau pushed back against the criticism, saying the signature collection website had put in place some measures to detect fake or multiple registrations.
In other comments, he told Wen Wei Po that the website came under Distributed Denial of Service hacker attacks on August 16, where there were 82 million access requests made to the system.
Yau’s group has listed several organizations as their supporters, including Hong Kong Youth Association, Hong Kong Political, Economic and Cultural Society, New Territories Association of Societies, and HKGPao.com — an entity founded by Robert Chow Yung.
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