A plan to buy front-page advertising space in a pro-democracy newspaper to “greet” Hong Kong’s former chief executive has met its crowdfunding goal of HK$110,000 in less than a day.
Avery Ng from the League of Social Democrats launched the campaign on Tuesday, with a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post that claimed to express concern for ex-leader Leung Chun-ying. Leung has been naming-and-shaming companies who advertise in the local newspaper Apple Daily since last month.
Ng wrote on Facebook: “To all Hong Kong citizens who are worried about CY Leung’s mental condition: due to the escalation in his sharing of Apple Daily advertisements, and for fear that he abandons treatment, I am now starting a crowdfunding campaign. HK$100 per person, let’s chip in for an ad asking after CY Leung!”
Every day since March 21, Leung has updated his personal Facebook page with photos or write-ups drawing attention to full-page ads in the paper. On days without full-page ads, Leung would write, “Apple Daily does not have any full-page ads today – [companies] feeling too ashamed to be associated.”
Leung’s battle with the newspaper was prompted by a March 13 column by veteran commentator Lee Yee, titled “Karma.” Lee wrote that certain Hongkongers were pleased with the passing of a pro-Beijing loyalist – a comment that Leung lambasted for “lacking morality.”
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The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement last month, saying that it was extremely concerned about Leung pressuring advertisers.
Leung replied that advertisers have a duty to explain to consumers if they agree with the newspaper on important moral issues. It was common in western countries for people to boycott advertisers in a similar way, he said, referring to the case of Tucker Carlson of Fox News.
‘Please stop donating’
Ng’s crowdfunding campaign, which started at around 6pm on Tuesday, was originally set to raise HK$30,000 for a full-page ad on page A3 of Apple Daily. However, Ng reported the next morning that over HK$80,000 had been received.
He then upped the bar to HK$110,000 – which will net him a full front-page ad – and the updated funding goal was reached by 3:15pm.
Ng thanked the public and asked people to stop donating, adding that he would release more details soon. The exact content for the ad was still in flux since Apple Daily’s lawyers said there were legal constraints, Ng said.
In his original appeal for funds, Ng had invited donors to contribute ideas on the ad’s design. He provided his own draft, which was formatted as a public letter to Leung that satirised his political career.
“Over the past month you wrote tirelessly, transforming from the respected role of CPPCC vice-chairman to a researcher, every day reporting on social media about the advertisers you saw. We are all very worried for your mental condition,” the letter began.
Ng’s campaign was criticised by actor Chapman To, who accused him of stealing the idea from comedian Dong Fong-sing. In response, Ng said he arrived at the idea independently and that “great minds think alike.”
The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.