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Exaggerated rally figures aim to fool HK public
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-07-08 09:15

Hong Kong people are annoyed at the brazen way that the July 1 march organizers exaggerated the number of protesters and the motives behind their action, Hong Kong Commercial Daily said in an editorial published Wednesday. Excerpts follow:

Some days have passed since this year's July 1 mass rally, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government has started to respond in full swing to the myriad demands expressed by the participants.

Nevertheless, society's scepticism over the attendance figure claimed by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) has persisted.

On the afternoon of July 1, CHRF, as organizer of the rally, amended several times its estimation of the total number of participants, within a short span of two hours, and finally announced excitedly the huge figure of 530,000. This number subsequently became the standard version, widely spread by many local and international media as "fact". But is it really the fact?

Fortunately, there are still academics in Hong Kong who are not willing to believe blindly in others. They want to respect science and rationality, and persevere in the pursuit for truth. These scholars, through on-the-spot observations and serious research, were able to blow the lie sky high and recover the truth.

Among them, researchers of the University of Hong Kong formed a special statistical group to carry out a "precise" calculation; and they concluded that the protest march figure should lie somewhere between 140,000 and 190,000. Some academics used satellite photographs for analysis and came up with the higher number of 260,000.

For their internal use in assisting in the maintenance of public order and other works, the police did their own estimation and placed the figure at less than 200,000.

In fact, there was no significant difference between the results of the various researches and estimations. Only the CHRF dared to ignore the facts and pronounce to the world that the total number of participants at the rally was 530,000. Were they not trying to cheat the world?

We acknowledge that all statistical figures have a certain range of error, but there can never be such a magnitude as in CHRF's estimation. Its exaggeration exercise was undoubtedly an attempt to fool public opinion, the international community as well as Hong Kong people.

CHRF has applied this trick time and again and has never been tired of it. This time it just went too far. One may wonder why the organization was not afraid of offending the public or having its lies exposed, and what its motives and purposes were in risking the tainting of its credibility and integrity.

Judging from the subsequent moves of the "pro-democracy" camp, it is not difficult to find the answer. Once the rally was over, the "democrats" put forward the demand of revoking the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the 2007 and 2008 elections. It looks like they were using "public opinion" in Hong Kong to exert pressure on the central government.

As a matter of fact, any observer of the July 1 rally would agree that the participants' demands were wide-ranging and manifold. Only part of the attendees advocated a radical pace of progress for realizing universal suffrage.

Denying the facts, the "democrats" have blown up the attendance on the one hand and simplified public opinion into a request for universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008 on the other.

What they were after was clear as daylight - increasing their political chips and influence and, certainly, gaining advantage in the Legislative Council election in September. When we see the true nature of the rally behind the boisterous slogan chanting, it is not hard to understand the "democrats'" hidden motive in exaggerating the figure.

In fact, the government should listen sincerely to participants' demands and grievances and take follow-up actions no matter how large the crowd. It should do so even if only a few thousand showed up.

Anybody who is frank and aboveboard and committed to doing what is good for Hong Kong does not need to resort to deception over the attendance figure. Since the CHRF has admitted its mistake in head-counting, why does it not step forward to correct its error in front of the world? If it insists on continuing with the fraud, its effort will backfire and it will lose all credibility.

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