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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 1:32pm
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Media mogul Jimmy Lai ‘spent HK$3.5m on Occupy Central vote’, leaked emails show

Leaked emails show tycoon privately dismissed organisers as idealists, while his media group helped with animated guide on resisting police

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 4:19pm

Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying spent millions helping Occupy Central to hold its unofficial referendum in June, leaked emails show.

Lai's Next Media group also offered extensive advice - including propaganda material - to the Occupy Central organisers - whom Lai dismissed in private as "idealist scholars" who "couldn't make the cut without help".

The emails were leaked by the same person who sent documents detailing the Next Media chairman's political donations to various pan-democrats two weeks ago. It is not clear how the documents were obtained.

One of the exchanges between Lai and his top aide Mark Simon shows that Lai spent some HK$3 million to HK$3.5 million to help the plebiscite. The email did not detail how the money was spent, only mentioning that the costs included "advertisements and billboards".

Jimmy Lai could not be reached for comment. Mark Simon declined to comment.

In an email dated July 5, 2013, Lai turned down advice from Ip Yut-kin, an executive director of Next Media, that neither he nor the media group should be involved in the Occupy Central campaign, in case the issue became "more complicated" because of Lai's anti-China stance.

Lai replied: "Noted. But I don't agree."

In another exchange, Lai said the three campaign organisers were idealist scholars who had "no strategy, not to mention any organised plans or steps for actions". They "could accomplish nothing if there was no help".

Emails dated July 8, 2013, suggest the Next Media group had helped to produce an animation showing how to resist police in case force was used to disperse people in a mass protest.

In an email the following day, the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a campaign co-organiser, said to Lai that it was too early to go into the "technical aspects" and talked about a campaign to "materialise the spirits of love and peace", which Lai said he found "totally confused".

The Occupy Central campaign is being planned by Chu, University of Hong Kong professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chinese University scholar Dr Chan Kin-man.

They plan to mobilise crowds to take over Hong Kong's financial district if Beijing sets guidelines on Hong Kong's chief executive election in 2017 that fall short of international standards for democracy.

Chan yesterday ridiculed the notion that Lai was the main force behind the campaign.

"Occupy Central has its own flow and schedule which are very transparent," he said.

The movement had received around HK$7 million in donations since last year, Chan said, but none of that was from Lai.

About HK$3 million was donated at fundraising events including the July 1 march; the remaining HK$4 million was from individual professionals.

Chan condemned the leak as a smear campaign.

Current affairs commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the information would reinforce the belief of critics of the pan-democrats that Lai, with the support of the United States, was orchestrating anti-China and anti-establishment campaigns in Hong Kong.



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This article is now closed to comments

There is nothing wrong with political campaign financed by individuals or businesses, and this has always been the practice in many democratic countries such as the US and UK. But the problem in HK is that the pan-democrats often accuse other businesses for financially supporting pro-establishment parties and yet they have never said anything about the financial support which they received from Jimmy Lai.
"Chan condemned the leak as a smear campaign."
So the truth is a smear campaign?
No big thing this time. It would be cool if someone could hack Andy Tsang, CY or Robert Chow's mailbox too... I think we would have lots of fun.
Yes, in the US, we are talking about donations to political campaigns/parties where the $$ is strictly declared and monitored, not put into the dubious, private accounts of the politicians themselves. Of course, some did and got caught, and had their political aspirations/careers cut short.
now we know who is the matermind. The trio are just minions.
As a registered voter in Hong Kong, my biggest issue with this is the legislators who took the money have spent too much of their legislative hours on Occupy Central and Anti-China matters. In my opinion, they were elected to deal with pressing social issues faced by Hong Kong people. This include housing, the environment, land fill, incinerators, recycling, public facilities, schools, tax, tourism, business promotion, trade, promoting local business, universities spaces, welfare, labour relations, etc., etc.
Stop taking dirty money to promote Anti-China for one man. Use the dirty money to help Hong Kongers who are in need and who can benefit from the funds.
So we now know he's no unconditional supporter afterall, Don Lai does have some errands he wants done.
So all along, Benny Tai and his cohorts were receiving money to push this OC thing all along...........I think most HKr's should realize by now that Benny Tai was not pushing for OC for the benefit and good for HK................He was just doing it cause there was money and a sponsor behind it and simply for the good of his own pocket.
Really should congratulate the whistleblower behind all this cause now HKr's can see that all the acitivists behind OC are doing it for MONEY!
“They can’t make it if there is no help.”
Help - or systemic interference - from the US, from Taiwan, from mastermind JImmy himself in the form of millions $$$ to create chaos and disorder in this city.
And still Benny Tai et al insists it is a democractic movement............
The problem is double standard. When Zhang Xiaoming raised funds for the DAB by singing, Martin Lee accused this as corrupt. But when didn't he say anything about the pan-democrats receiving funds from Jimmy Lai?



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