Next Media boss Jimmy Lai was said to have spent HK$3 million (US$387,094) to HK$3.5 million to support the advertising of the mock referendum exercise on June 22 organized by the Occupy Central movement, Ming Pao Daily News reported Tuesday, citing an email provided by an informer who called himself a Next Media shareholder.
Occupy Central founder Chan Kin-man and the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong, whose PopVote system handled the public voting on June 22, both denied having received contributions from Lai.
Chan said it is a joke that people over-fantasize the influence of Lai. He said the alleged advertising spending by Lai may have been used on promotional materials such as the large billboards in Wan Chai.
Lai did not respond on the issue on Monday.
Chan said all donations to Occupy Central must be unconditional. The movement has so far raised about HK$7 million, mainly from three marches, and there is a surplus of HK$1.38 million. Organizers estimate HK$2 million to HK$2.5 million would be spent on another referendum.
The informer has revealed 113 emails between Lai and his staff, with one from Lai to executive director Ip Yut-kin saying that the three founders of Occupy Central lack winning plots and organizational skills, so Next Media must help them.
Meanwhile, legislators James To and Claudia Mo and former lawmaker Tanya Chan have again denied having received a donation of HK$500,000 each from Lai in 2012 while they were running for Legislative Council elections.
To said the emails are a lot of hearsay intended to mislead the public, the report said.
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