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Hong Kong Refuses to Donate to Sichuan Ya’an Earthquake Relief

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On NetEase & Sina:

Some Hong Kongers Refuse to Donate for Disaster Relief, Claims Mainland Donations Lack Supervision

Original Title: Minority of Hong Kongers Boycott Donating for Disaster Relief, Do Their Reasons Stand Up to Scrutiny? [on the People’s Daily Foreign Edition]

Recently, when Sichuan Ya’an Earthquake victims were in urgent need of help, a minority of Hong Kongers launched an “anti-donation campaign” with the reason of “donations in the mainland lack supervision”. On the 24th, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Legislative Council Finance Committee, with regards to Chief Executive CY Leung’s proposal to allocate 100 million HKD to be placed into the Disaster Relief Fund to be donated to Sichuan province, held a special disaster relief allocation meeting, but after two hours of debate, this meeting fell apart due to differences over the donation suggestion. This matter aroused a huge reaction in Hong Kong. The SAR government’s Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam indicated on the 28th her hopes that the Legislative Council will quickly allocate funds through the Disaster Relief Fund to help the masses hit by the Sichuan Ya’an Earthquake.

Some people looking for excuses to not donate

Compared to the Wenchuan Earthquake when all of Hong Kong was united in contributing to disaster relief, this time there has been some twists and turns. Recently, a minority of Hong Kong people have expressed worries of the SAR government’s generous donations being embezzled. There are even netizens launching a “won’t donate even 10 cents” campaign. Some opposition party groups also have reservations towards the allocation of funds, their reason being “it is difficult to ensure that all the donations will reach the hands of the people hit by the disaster”. Also, individual representatives have proposed revisions, proposing that the entire 100 million HKD be given to non-governmental organizations and volunteer organizations, or be used to purchase supplies to directly help the people hit by the disaster.

The minority of people who oppose donating also claim “the mainland is rich now, Hong Kongers don’t need to donate”. Hong Kong public opinion believes that whether or not the recipient is rich or not should not be a necessary condition for donation, because after the 2011 Japan Earthquake, Hong Kong also donated, and Japan is very rich, so why weren’t there objections raised then?

Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po published an editorial on the 26th saying that this matter has risen to the political level, believing that the opposition party’s argument that the mainland lacks supervision to launch the so-called “anti-donating campaign” at a time when earthquake victims urgently need help is actually a groundless excuses, their actual intent being to politicize disaster relief, the actual essence being a continuation of the “anti-national education” movement.

Don’t let concerns halt disaster relief

Some people care about the so-called establishment of a transparent and accountable system, while others care more about the human spirit of “putting oneself in another person’s shoes”. The diversity of Hong Kong society is embodied in this. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post published an editorial saying “Don’t let concerns about corruption halt quake aid“, and that Legislative Council legislators should adopt stricter measures against the misuse of donations, rather than refusing to donate. If the government’s application to allocate funds is vetoed, it will “send the wrong signal that Hong Kong refuses to extend help to the disaster area”.

Carrie Lam also shared her personal experience. After the Wenchuan Earthquake, she saw Sichuan attach importance to the establishment of systems and institutions through its cooperation with Hong Kong in its aiding and rebuilding, also understanding “the strictness and public accountability of Hong Kong’s system”. Media has observed that the Hong Kong-Sichuan reconstruction projects have submitted detailed reports to the Legislative Council, and it can even be said “where every single cent of money has been used can be seen”.

Senior Hong Kong media figure Meisi has also come out to express that people should not become disillusioned just because a minority of Hong Kongers are boycotting donating. Some media have claimed that (after the Wenchuan Earthquake) “half of the reconstruction projects are substandard”. This is actually from a certain Hong Kong media report published in 2011 June that mainland media had previously clarified with “Hong Kong-Funded Sichuan Aid and Reconstruction Projects All Meet Standards, “60% Substandard” Was Mistaken Interpretation of Data” [HK Government press release]. The person in charge of the HKSAR-backed Sichuan Aid and Reconstruction Group also believes that was an untrue report, “a generalization, ignoring the construction project’s overall quality and related rectification measures, misleading the public”.

To delay donations is to miss the point of disaster relief

Carrie Lam said on a television program on the 28th that helping in a disaster is like fire fighting, that if the allocation of funds is delayed due to deliberation procedures, then it will lose its original meaning as disaster relief. Hong Kongers have all sympathized with their mainland compatriots every time they have suffered a disaster, and hopes that the HKSAR will extend a helping hand from a humanitarian standpoint, to help the people in the earthquake struck areas, and that it will act as it has done so before.

Some media have commented that irresponsible speech concerning the [Sichuan Ya’an] Lushan Earthquake have appeared recently in Hong Kong, adding fuel to the flames of existing high tensions between the two populations owing to milk powder, mainland pregnant women, and other problems. Therefore, in the face of “won’t donate even 10 cents”, there is no need to be angry, no need to be disillusioned, remember that blood is thicker than water, trust that Hong Kong compatriots ability to differentiate right from wrong, and avoid being taken in by these people.

Hong Kong Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong Legislative Council member Tam Yiu-chung, Starry Lee, Ann Chiang, Gary Chan, and others have not only made donations in Wanchai but have also helped with fund raising. With regards to the use and supervision of disaster relief funds that city residents are paying attention to, Tam Yiu-chung believes the relevant mainland departments need to strengthen supervision and management of disaster relief funds, and increase the level of transparency in the use of disaster relief funds, ensuring that donations are used for what they are intended, and that the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong will also do their work of following-up and supervision.

However, Tan Yiu-chung says even if there are individual bad incidents, supervision and donation are two different things, that both must be done, and hopes that city residents will not be deterred.

As of the 26th, Hong Kongers from various parts of society have through the Liaison Office donated to the earthquake disaster area a total in excess of 150 million HKD, with over 73.5 million HKD already received; and over 10,000 cans of milk powder has been donated.

At time of translation, there were over 18k comments spanning 600 pages and over 300k participants in the comments, making it one of the most viewed and commented news articles on the popular NetEase web portal…

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Comments from NetEase:

哪里不腐 [网易河南省信阳市手机网友]:

What the Hong Kongers are doing is right.

0089 [网易江苏省手机网友]:

Why is there resistance? Nor does [the government] reflect on itself! Only knows how find reasons on other people [instead of on itself]!

zdf25 [网易美国网友]:

Donating is not mandatory, taxpayers have the authority to supervise the government’s use of funds.

网易德国手机网友:

Donating first of all is not an obligation, and what more, raising 100 million yuan and donating it to neutral organizations would definitely be more reliable than donating the money to the Sichuan government. The reason for this is one everyone knows.

网易安徽省手机网友:

A minority of Hong Kongers? Brother laughs.

曾琪 [网易海南省三亚市手机网友]:

When Hong Kong has a disaster in the future, I’ll refuse to donate, what about you guys?

网易河南省郑州市网友: (responding to above)

I will also refuse.

网易上海市网友: (responding to above)

Same as above. However, I need to make clear something. I don’t think what the Hong Kongers are doing is wrong. The Red Cross Society is indeed too black [corrupt]. It’s just that I personally rather dislike Hong Kongers.

网易湖北省荆门市网友: (responding to above)

+1

指那拆那 [网易广东省河源市网友]:

Yesterday my son asked to borrow 10 kuai from me. I thought he was going to use it for breakfast, so I gave it to him. Only after he got of out school and told me that he had donated the ten kuai did I realize what he had borrowed the money for.

网易吉林省吉林市手机网友:

Don’t believe it! I don’t believe whatever the Red Cross says! Not donating is the right principle!

指那拆那 [网易广东省河源市网友]:

The word “minority” was used well.

virtut0019 [网易河南省郑州市手机网友]:

The government’s handling [of donations/charity] is quite simply bad, so why donate? The Party newspaper’s reasons don’t stand up to scrutiny.

网易山西省忻州市手机网友:

Good thing we still have Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Chinese people still have hope.

网易福建省福州市手机网友:

Does not donating require a reason? If they’re not going to donate, then they’re not going to donate. They don’t donate so you denounce them, like a beggar on the street flipping out when he doesn’t get money!

网易广东省深圳市手机网友:

Nevermind Hong Kongers, even our own [mainland] citizens refuse to donate.

This People’s Daily editorial also attracted a lot of attention and discussion on another popular Chinese portal website, Sina, where their article was amongst the day’s most viewed, and topped the site’s most-commented lists with over over 200k participants…

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Comments on Sina:

手机用户[山东临沂]

This is all because of the China Red Cross Guo Meimei Incident, losing the trust of the charitable people. To this day they haven’t held the leaders responsible, with corrupt government officials still in their positions, so how do they expect to have the people’s trust? It is the disaster victims who suffer!

sina姜丁[北京海淀]

Truly a high-level democracy. In contrast, the management level [government] of some countries can donate as they please to any country or region, while profiting from whenever disasters strike their own ordinary common people pushing companies and individuals to donate, even if their [government] financial revenues are in the hundreds of billions. They always manage to spend the money: Three Public Expenses [the use of public money for travel, transportation, and entertainment].

蒋鹄[上海]

Truly one pellet of mouse feces ruining an entire pot of porridge. the Red Cross Society ought to reflect on itself.

手机用户[江苏南京]

Not donating is good.

手机用户[江苏盐城]

A bunch of white-eyed wolves [blind and inhuman people, referring to the Hong Kongers], though the mainland’s charity organizations themselves should examine why they are having such trouble.

夏虫_也为我沉默[北京海淀]

It’s not just Hong Kong people, there are also a lot of people in the mainland who don’t want to donate. Please do not use moral blackmail against these people. When your donations ultimately become Guo Meimei’s luxury purses and luxury cars, do you not get angry?

墨墨斋[广东]

Minority? 68%! The people’s will/public opinion should be respected, the Heavenly Kingdom [government] should reflect on itself!

方门彩叔[北京海淀]

The mainland indeed does not lack money, what it lacks is the people’s hearts.

张瑞_Y[北京海淀]

On this matter, [Hong Kongers] at least their “objection sustained”, whereas in the mainland, if you were to object to anything… it will certainly be “objection overruled”! [This comment reflects the popularity of Hong Kong-produced legal procedural dramas amongst mainland audiences.]

Fay_Ye[北京海淀]

What you donate simply won’t reach the disaster victims’ hands.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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