Hong Kong Pro-Government March Gets Caught for Hiring Protesters

On Dec 28th 2012, a message about hiring protesters for the pro-government march was widely shared on Facebook. Hong Kong Pro-Government March Caught Hiring Protesters

陳: Jan 1st protest (10am, Central). Each person gets 300 HKD. The protest is about two hours long. Get paid on the same day. (The number of people has already changed to unlimited!!! You can call as many people as you want. We only worry you don’t come!) Tomorrow is the last day to report the number of people. (We don’t expect you not to turn up.) If you want to go, please whatsapp 54070155 Ah Long.

Reporters who posed as protesters successfully contacted Ah Long and recorded the whole “rent-a-protester” drama.

From Jan 1st 2013 House News and Jan 1st 2013 Passion Times,

(*The article and video are taken from House News while most of the photos are from Passion Times)

This Monday, there was a rumour of hiring protesters on the Internet. Our reporter signed up for the protest using the phone number found online and got a reply from a man called “Ah Long”, who was willing to pay 300 HKD per person and also told reporters to get more friends to participate. Later, Ah Long lowered the reward to 250 HKD as there were too many participants. He also urged reporters to gather at Central on time.

Around 9 am, about 100 trendily-dressed teenagers gathered at the Statue Square’s MTR exit. Some teenagers frankly admitted that “they were waiting to get paid and protest.”  Later, contact personnel who dressed fashionably, including Ah Long (in black hat), checked attendance. After several contact personnel finished checking attendance, they reported to the suspected leader(light-coloured coat wearing middle-aged man). Then, contact personnel stamped on the hands of these ‘protesters’ one by one.

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Around one hundred “protesters” were leaded to the stage of the “Hong Kong Celebration Association”. The suspected leader raised signs of  “Tuen Mun Chamber of Commerce” and “Sham Tseng Chamber of Commerce”. Some “protesters” wore face masks or bowed their heads to avoid being recognised. Most “protesters” cared less about activities on the stage, smoking and yelling. The gathering ended one hour later. “Protesters” set off for the government headquarters in Admiralty. Encountering reporters’ cameras on the way, most protesters dodged them. Some even swore that “for how f**king long do we have to wait”. Some supported CY mockingly and yelled, “I really want to study national education!”

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Our reporters reached the government headquarters at noon. At the time, masses of people in the name of local organisations holding signs which support the government and the Chief Executive joined “protesters” and watched shows in the square of the government headquarters. Meanwhile, young people waited outside of the square in groups.

Ah Long and another contact personnel had yet handed out the money. It is suspected that there were too many press photographers watching them attentively. The crowd was directed by the police to the opposite of the Citic Tower and the Legislative Council Complex, near a row of mobile toilets by the seaside.

Waiting by the Seaside

Our reporter waited at the above location for 45 minutes. The contact personnel had yet “paid the wage”, because they suspected that press photographers opposite to the road wanted to take photos of the whole paying process, and some fellow reporters who posed as protesters were uncovered. After waiting for an hour, from the observation of our reporter, these teenagers finally got paid in groups – one group went to Tamar Park, another group went to Admiralty MTR station, and one group stayed outside of the mobile toilets – to disperse attention of the media.

After discussions, Ah Long finally paid money inside one of the mobile toilets, and only one person was allowed each time. This created a line of 20 people waiting outside of that toilet. Most people went away quickly after getting paid.

Getting Paid Inside Mobile Toilets
Getting Paid Inside Mobile Toilets

According to the account of Passion Times, Ah Long paid protesters on the street before he found reporters taking photos.

From Jan 2nd 2013 Apple Daily,

Types of “Rent-a-Protester”

1. Local Hoodlums

2. Cultural Revolution Style Red Guards who Beat Reporters

3. Mainland Chinese

Political cartoonist Cuson Lo mocks that pro-CY Leung protests can boost employment and minimum wage.

Increase Empoloyment
Support CY
Each Time $250
Uncle of Victoria Park: Good Policy!

Lo further mocks paid participants for having no dignity and CY Leung for buying support in a very low way.
HK pro-gov march hires protesters

Go inside and have a lick, you’ll get paid~

From another political cartoonist Ah Ping,

“Stop the announcement first! Not until all of them are paid!……”

Ah Ping further mocks “rent-a-protester” and corruption in Hong Kong election by replacing 5 stars on the Chinese flag with a dumpling, a mobile toilet with a money sign, a mooncake and a vegetarian dish, as giving away food like dumplings and mooncakes and holding discounted vegetarian and snake banquets are typical ways for pro-Beijing political parties to bribe voters.

3 thoughts on “Hong Kong Pro-Government March Gets Caught for Hiring Protesters

  1. You mean “withhold the announcement”, not “behold”. Interesting comic, though.

    Perhaps Beijing is interested in “democracy” after all and is using HK as an experiment. They’re hoping they can get away with the Russian version of it (where Putin has been President or Premier since 1999.)

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