Leung to show proof of foreign influence when time's right
The government has evidence that "foreign forces" have influenced the Occupy Central movement and it would be disclosed at an appropriate time, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday.
Leung had said previously that the government and Beijing suspected outside forces had a role in the ongoing protests.
And yesterday, he stressed that his comments were "not speculation".
"There are foreign forces participating in the Occupy movement; it was not speculation of my own," he said.
"As the leader of the government, it is my responsibility to know about this.
"As to how we should disclose the evidence … there will be appropriate consideration at the appropriate time.
"Any government who knew about this would have to face it and tackle the situation," he said, without identifying those forces.
Executive Council member and Beijing-loyalist lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king cited information she read on the internet suggesting the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private non-profit foundation in the US, has been funding the local pro-democracy movement.
This followed an earlier commentary published on the front page of the overseas edition of the People's Daily on October 10, citing unidentified overseas media reports that said leaders of Occupy Central had met Louisa Greve, a vice-president of the NED.
The article claimed Washington was stirring up trouble against regimes it disliked under the pretext of supporting pro-democracy movements.
Dr Chan Kin-man, a co-founder of Occupy Central, said he had not met Greve.
In a statement issued on October 14, the NED said the reports were inaccurate, and that "no leader of the current protests has sought assistance or counsel from the NED".
The projects it had supported in Hong Kong focused on encouraging good governance, supporting informed citizen engagement in the political process, and protecting human rights, the statement said.
NED projects for Hong Kong totalled US$695,031 last year. The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor is one of the groups in Hong Kong that received funding from the NED last year. The NED receives funding from the US Congress and supports over 1,000 projects of non-government groups overseas each year.
Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Leung was trying to divert public attention.
"Hong Kong people can't easily refute his claim because this information can only be obtained by intelligence agencies."
"Leung wants to lay the ground for future actions against the protests and discourage people from taking part in the movement," Lau said. "But his attempt is bound to fail because most Hong Kong people know this is a spontaneous domestic movement."
Meanwhile, Leung yesterday stressed the needs of people at the grass roots were always at the heart of his administration, after his blunt remark in interviews a day earlier that an open election would risk giving poorer people a dominant voice in politics.