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Friday, August 14, 2015, 09:19

Worrying new revelations

By Staff Writer

While the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) donation mystery over the illegal “Occupy Central” campaign is still hanging in the air, stunning details leaked to local media by a “nobody” — as he described himself — have shocked Hong Kong. In the wake of this, it is sensible for HKU to launch a further inquiry into HK$2.41 million of donation money mostly handled by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate law professor of HKU and key perpetrator in the “Occupy” protests which rocked the city for almost three months last year.

The “nobody” is actually a participant, a helping hand in the “Occupy” campaign’s fundraising. He chose to tell the truth because he felt he had been cheated. The “Occupy” trio failed to honor their promise to publish the illegal campaign’s financial report. HKU seemingly avoids serious issues and dwells only on trivial ones when examining the matter.

Thanks to the whistleblower, we now know that Tai accepted HK$1.45 million from the donors in 2013 and 2014. In particular, he received 15 bank checks within 13 months with a total amount of HK$780,000 from the Hong Kong Democratic Development Network (HKDDN) alone, some of which were used for “Occupy”-related projects. The HKDDN has been closely linked with the city’s protest movement ever since it was launched in July 2002. It offered its bank account for the disposal of “Occupy” funds. Donors include Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon and diehard member of the opposition camp, plus another “mysterious foreigner”.

As such, Tai and his comrades owe the public a full explanation. They need to explain things — such as who are the donors and those receiving donations? How much money was involved? Has there been any embezzlement of money or conflicts of interest?

Since November last year, the relevant authorities and the public have repeatedly demanded that the HKU Council and management conduct a thorough review of information about the money. Unfortunately, almost a year after the demise of “Occupy”, no audit report into fundraising for the campaign has ever been released. While the educational institution’s blurred donation guidelines are to blame, a big question to be asked is inevitably whether HKU willingly performed as the vanguard of the “Occupy” protests.

Admittedly, the scale and tactics of the illegal campaign last year caught many off guard. The latest leaks show that Beijing’s concerns about meddling from outside forces in Hong Kong’s political affairs are not paranoid — it is actually happening. As a British colony for more than 150 years, Hong Kong was given the nickname “Casablanca of the East” long before the handover in 1997. It is still an active base for many foreign agents and their proxies to engage in subversive activities.

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