A drive has been launched to award up to HK$1 million (US$127,500) to anyone who can help track down those involved in about 30 incidents related to the recent anti-government protests.
Dubbed “803 action”, the initiative was advertised on the front page of two pro-Beijing newspapers on Tuesday and named after the date – August 3 – when a Chinese flag was removed from a flagpole and thrown into the sea in Tsim Sha Tsui.
“The violence and the illegal acts of a small minority of people have severely hurt Hong Kong since June,” the advertisement read, referring to ongoing political crisis triggered by the now-shelved extradition bill.
“We are from various walks of life who hope to restore calm in Hong Kong.”
A check of the domain name suggested the website of the drive – 803.hk – was registered by Leung Chun-ying and it was launched on August 12.
Both the Chinese and English names of the domain holder matched that of the city’s former chief executive, who is now a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Following the flag desecration in Tsim Sha Tsui, Leung wrote on Facebook earlier in August he would offer HK$1 million to anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest of the accused.
Leung’s office did not respond to the Post’s enquiry on Tuesday, but the former leader had promoted the campaign on his Facebook page and urged people to spread the word.
The website also stated members of the public would be paid the sum if the information they provided could make the accused face legal responsibilities.
The 30 incidents listed, which varying rewards ranging from HK$200,000 up to HK$1 million, included the defacement of the national emblem in Beijing’s liaison office on July 21 and city’s emblem in the Legislative Council on July 1. The list also included the protests in the airport on August 13.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, the convenor of the pro-democracy camp, accused the campaign initiator of bringing “white terror” to the city.
“It is akin to what happened during the Cultural Revolution which encouraged neighbours to report each other,” she said. “It is despicable.”
Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the rewarding offers were not from the force, but they would sometimes accept such private offers.
Li said officers would handle such announcements cautiously by verifying the identity and background of those offering such rewards.