Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Lam reaches bookstore funding goal in a day

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter, with AFP

A screengrab from online crowdfunding platform FlyingV shows the status of a campaign to relaunch Causeway Bay Books in Taiwan yesterday.

Screengrab from the Internet

Lam Wing-kei (林榮基), the former manager of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books (銅鑼灣書店), yesterday thanked Taiwanese after reaching the target on crowdfunding platform FlyingV to open a bookstore in Taiwan.

Lam, who arrived in Taiwan in April after the Hong Kong government announced plans to introduce controversial legislation that would allow extraditions to China, said that he plans to open the bookstore in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町), a shopping area popular with young people, by the middle of next year.

Lam said that he launched the crowdfunding effort at 8pm on Thursday and initially expected to reach his goal of raising NT$2.8 million (US$89,580) by Nov. 5.

However, within 24 hours he had already surpassed the goal, with more than 1,700 donations totaling about NT$3.16 million as of 8pm last night.

FlyingV declared the venture a success and said that it would continue to accept donations to the campaign until midnight on Nov. 4.

At about 1pm yesterday, Lam posted an open letter on a Facebook page dedicated to restarting the bookstore in Taiwan, expressing his gratitude for the support from Taiwanese society.

“I am 63 years old and did not know how crowdfunding works, so I must thank FlyingV and my Taiwanese friends for all the help,” Lam said. “Since last night, it seems that I have encountered friends who rallied in the streets for my cause and the Hong Kong people who stood up in protests over the past five months.”

“My heart was overwhelmed by the generosity and it is very difficult to express in words my gratitude,” he said. “Please give me the opportunity to thank each one of you in person.”

“On the news I have seen young protesters [in Hong Kong] beaten up and, like many people, I was angry and felt powerless, and unable to sleep,” Lam said. “I salute them for their spirit to resist and refusal to surrender when facing authoritarian power.”

“We were booksellers before; it had nothing to do with undermining national security or harming the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” he said. “Now I believe that only by reading books, to boost the cultural knowledge of this generation, would it be possible to fight against an autocratic government and let people live in freedom.”

Lam was one of five men linked to the Hong Kong-based bookstore, which sold gossip-filled tomes on China’s leaders, who vanished at the end of 2015, resurfacing in Chinese custody and making televised confessions.

He was allowed to return to Hong Kong in June 2016 on the condition that he pick up a hard drive listing the bookstore’s customers and return to China.

Instead, he skipped bail and went public with explosive testimony detailing how he was blindfolded by Chinese police after crossing the border at Shenzhen and spent months being interrogated.

The Mainland Affairs Council said that Lam’s visa is to expire on Oct. 25.

Lam on Tuesday said that he would next month visit Germany to attend a book fair, after which he would return to Taiwan for a longer stay.

Additional reporting by Jason Pan and CNA

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