How much are you willing to donate to support the cause of democracy?
If you ask Hong Kong people, you may get an answer that democracy is priceless and that they would do all they can to help in the fight to ensure freedoms and core values.
However, when it comes to actually parting with cash and contributing to democracy campaign groups in the city, we have seen not too good response from the public in recent years.
Yet there is hope, going by the collections reaped this year by the organizer of the annual June 4 candlelight vigil.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the entity behind the Victoria Park event that commemorates the victims of Beijing’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, revealed that it raised a record HK$2.75 million in donations during the night of June 4 this year.
The Alliance’s secretary-general, Lee Cheuk-yan, said on Wednesday that strong turnout of more than 180,000 — the highest since 2014, the year of Occupy Central movement — helped the group secure record high donation.
The HK$2.75 million figure beats a previous record set in 2012 when the group received HK$2.33 million. In 2018, donations totaled HK$1.46 million, which means there was an 88 percent jump this year.
It is not too difficult to surmise the reason for the stronger-than-usual contributions from the public at the group’s latest candlelight vigil on Tuesday.
Apart from marking the 30th anniversary of the Beijing massacre of democracy activists, passions were running high this year also because of the government’s move to amend the extradition law, which would allow authorities to transfer ‘fugitives’ to mainland China for criminal prosecutions.
With anger against Beijing and its surrogate administration in Hong Kong growing, other democratic groups and political parties also benefited from the record turnout at the June 4 rally.
Demosisto, founded by student leaders such as Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, raised some HK$480,000, while the League of Social Democrats — the party of maverick politician and social activist ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung — reaped HK$430,000.
Among others, Civic Party raised HK$260,000, while Democracy Groundwork — a group founded by disqualified legislator Lau Siu-lai — raised HK$210,000, and People Power secured HK$200,000, according to reports.
Overall, the democracy camp raised more than HK$4.33 million on June 4 this year.
If we divide the figure by the 180,000 attendees, it works out to about HK$24 per head. That is not too bad considering the financial pressures faced by the average citizen amid rising living costs, economic uncertainties and a renewed stock market slide.
Of course it was nothing compared to the money raised by Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest political party in Legco, which recorded HK$125 million in donations in the 2017-18 financial year.
But we must bear in mind that the donations to the pro-Beijing party come largely from business tycoons and establishment groups, and can’t really be measured against the small out-of-pocket contributions made by ordinary citizens to the democracy groups.
Judging from the record donation reaped by the June 4 candlelight vigil organizer this year, it is clear that Hong Kong people want to send a strong message to Beijing and its proxy government here.
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