Organisers of Tuesday's march in support of the chief executive have insisted that those reported to have received a cash reward in exchange for their participation in the protest were not their affiliates.
Chan Yung, the New Territories Association of Societies chairman, yesterday said that those whom a news portal caught on film receiving cash for joining the pro-government march were also discovered by the protest organisers on Tuesday.
But he denied that the people were related to the organisers. "They were just standing on the side of the road. We could not interfere," he told RTHK in a radio interview.
According to Chan, some 20 to 30 people were spotted near Chater Road during the morning march, but they refused to reveal which organisation they belonged to.
"They were clad in black, but they did not voice out any concerns [during the march]," he said, adding that the organisation made a police report after the incident.
Chan also said the group had found those people suspicious as they did not display the blue stickers the organisation gave its protesters.
"No matter who they represented, this is something that Hongkongers cannot tolerate as this is illegal," he said.
Next Magazine reported yesterday that about 100 people received HK$250 cash each for joining the march to support the embattled chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
The report said the protesters brandished placards showing that they belonged to several New Territories business unions.
News portal House News also filmed the "paid-to-march" protesters receiving their cash reward outside the Tamar government complex.
The key organiser of the march, Hong Kong Celebrations Association, has urged the police to look into the matter.
"The truth must be found to prevent such legitimate activities from facing a smear campaign," the association said in a statement last night.
When contacted by the South China Morning Post, Yuen Long Merchants Association secretary Chan Kwok-ying denied any involvement in the pro-Leung protest. "It is rather abnormal," he said. "Why should people march to support someone?"
A police spokeswoman said that an initial investigation had revealed no criminal element.
According to the organisers, some 8,000 people joined the pro-Leung rally. But police said the turnout was only 2,700.