The Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s call for donations for China’s quake-hit Sichuan province has been denied by the legislature due to the overwhelming opposition by Hong Kong citizens.
As soon as Leung Chun-ying announced on April 22, 2013 the government's plan to donate HK$100 million, many citizens opposed the idea, fearing that the donation would end up feeding corrupt government officials instead of going to people in need.
In an online poll by SCMP.com on April 23 that attracted over 5,000 votes, 92 percent of the respondents said “No” to the question “Should Hong Kong’s legislature approve a HK$100m donation to Sichuan earthquake victims?”
The overwhelming opposition to the plan is believed to be a consequence of mainland China's abuse of donations for the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 and the continuous corruption scandals. A school whose reconstruction was funded by Hong Kong after the quake was demolished last year to make way for commercial property development.
Hong Kong’s opposition to donate has found resonance among Weibo users on the mainland. On the popular microblogging Sina Weibo, netizens expressed their understanding for Hong Kong’s doubt and call for reflections among government officials. Some even questioned the whole idea of donation, as they believe the government is rich enough to cover the cost of disaster relief.
One netizen’s analysis has been reposted over 28843 times on Sina Weibo:
Each time a major disaster hit the mainland, Hong Kong people would actively make donations. Five years ago, after the major earthquake in Wenchuan, the Government and the public donated a total of twenty-three billion yuan, a record in history. However, after the Ya'an earthquake this time, the scene of Hong Kong people queuing for donation is nowhere to be seen, even the government’s proposal of HK$100 million disaster relief has caused controversy. It is not because the people of Hong Kong has become cold, or too poor to donate, but rather because of the rampant corruption among mainland officials who misused the donations without any monitoring system or transparency. No one can guarantee that the money will not be abused again, and our love trampled again.
Web user “Tuuu Wei” from Shanghai echoed the sentiment:
谁叫汶川地震有挪用捐款的前科，就难怪港人存戒心。 纳税人的钱也都是滴滴血汗换来。 欣赏香港的民主与冷静。
Why did the government embezzle the donations for the Wenchuan earthquake? No wonder the people of Hong Kong have doubts. Taxpayers’ money comes from their drops of blood and sweat. I appreciate the democracy and rationality in Hong Kong.
“Xin chaodao” from Hongkong’s neighboring Shenzhen city complained:
We don’t even believe that the donations really go into the hands of the quake victims, not to mention Hongkong people.
Writer Lian Peng commented:
Money is not a problem, we are not lacking in money, but losing people’s trust is scary.
Famous actor Chen Kun confirmed Lian Peng’s thoughts:
Donation or not is not the point, trust! Trust[is]! The lost of trust is the key issue to be fixed immediately.
“Baoxiang Siyi” wrote:
[This is] trust crisis, we need to reflect!
“Liuxue bu Liu lei 08” pointed out the fundamental reason for the rampant corruption:
Without any strict regulatory system, or punishment for breaking the law, the dark side of humanity will erupt. Do not blame corrupt officials, blame the system that does not restrain them.