Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Trying to Discredit Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai may have donated millions to pro-democracy politicians and groups
Someone or a group is out to take down media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying with the leak of his emails showing how much he has donated to pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong.

Two weeks ago there were leaked emails showing he donated millions of dollars to pan-democratic politicians such as Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching, Democrat James To Kun-sun, and ex-lawmaker Tanya Chan, as well as Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, and Martin Lee Chu-ming.

Donations ranged from HK$200,000 to HK$6 million (over two years).

And now the latest revelation from more leaked emails is that Lai helped fund the referendum that Occupy Central held in June.

Exchanges between the founder of Next Media and his top aide Mark Simon show Lai has spent between HK$3 million to HK$3.5 million on the plebiscite, though it is not clear what exactly the money was used for.

While Lai gave extensive advice to the pro-democracy group, he privately described Occupy Central as "idealist scholars" who "couldn't make the cut without help".

He added they had "no strategy", not to mention any organized plans or steps for actions". They "could accomplish nothing if there was no help".

While Lai and Simon would not comment, one of the Occupy Central organizers, Chinese University academic Dr Chan Kin-man dismissed 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.

He also condemned the leak as a smear campaign.

It is interesting these leaks have come out now as well as the contents of them. It should be no surprise that Lai would possibly support pro-democracy groups because of his critical stance towards the mainland.

And what he does with his money is his own business. Surely other tycoons are donating money to pro-Beijing camps, perhaps even the anti-Occupy Central group that's collecting signatures now, and the total has far surpassed 1 million.

Lai is an outsider -- like Li Ka-shing he has built his riches from the bottom up -- but instead Lai focuses on his media projects and uses them as his bullhorn to express his disapproval of China.

As a result, it is alleged by Simon that banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered stopped advertising with Lai's popular Apple Daily thanks to an order from the Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

This hit Lai's Next Media hard financially, but he still manages to do OK.

Which is maybe perhaps most locals don't really care about these email leaks on Lai in terms of how much he's spending on pro-democracy groups and activities...

He's on their side.

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