Internet documents embarrass Lee Cheuk-yan

Updated: 2014-10-17 07:04

By Yan Ming(HK Edition)

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More "secret documents" have emerged on the Internet about Labour Party Chairman Lee Cheuk-yan. Lee is also general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) - the city's second largest labor group.

The documents reveal that over the past 30 years he has been receiving millions of dollars in "donations" from the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), an affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The leaked confidential communications reveal the HKCTU has received cash "donations" worth HK$13 million from the ACILS in the last two decades.

In what could appear like a work report from the HKCTU to its US "boss", the radical group mentions increased animosity between the "pan-democrat" organizations in Hong Kong and central government authorities in Beijing.

This is a good reason for the NED to offer more incentives. It also claims "Occupy Central" is the culmination of popular dissent due to Hong Kong's worsening social problems. The HKCTU is a driving force behind rising demands for democracy and the protection of labor rights in Hong Kong.

Apparently, the latter served its purpose and there is every reason to believe the latest reward from the US has something to do with "Occupy".

The NED, as always in such situations, issued a denial of the revelations earlier this week. But it did confirm it had been helping "non-governmental" civil groups in nearly 100 countries and regions to encourage democratic development.

Unsurprisingly, it denied any involvement in "Occupy" - but not its ties with the HKCTU or the rest of the opposition camp.

The term "non-governmental" in no way contradicts the fact Lee is also a member of the Legislative Council (LegCo) and has taken the oath of allegiance to the SAR government, which is a requirement for lawmakers.

Many people suspect the NED is not a charitable foundation. In the name of democracy it has been helping anti-government movements around the world for decades.

This includes subversive "color revolutions" in former Soviet Union member states such as Ukraine, Georgia and Kirgizstan. It is easy to imagine how the HKCTU used the "donations" via the ACILS. The HKCTU is well-known here for its leading role in sometimes violent anti-government activities over the years. Whatever it has done for labor rights pales into insignificance in comparison with its political activities - not to mention the cash rewards it receives from the ACILS.

The HKCTU was founded in 1990 to rival, or "counter-balance", the much older and larger Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU). The HKFTU had long been a prominent part of the patriotic camp. Undoubtedly the HKCTU is one of the political organizations tasked with undermining China's sovereign rule of Hong Kong after the handover.

So its close ties with the ACILS and NED are only to be expected. It is just a formality that the NED should officially deny the alleged assistance for illegal movements such as "Occupy" through the HKCTU and quite possibly other opposition groups.

Given the illegal nature of "Occupy" and the HKCTU's proclivity for violence in confrontations with the authorities, it is only natural for the ACILS and NED to carefully monitor its actions in Hong Kong. This explains the HKCTU's regular updates to its benefactors in the US.

The "occupiers" will take every sympathetic gesture as an endorsement of their unlawful behavior. But their conduct is a blatant infringement of fellow citizens' liberties with their adulterated version of "civil disobedience".

It should surprise no one that neither the ACILS, the NED, nor the US government has acknowledged that "Occupy" is the exact opposite of the celebrated Civil Rights Movement championed by Martin Luther King in the 1960s.

I don't know if the NED and ACILS are aware of the anti-"Occupy" protests by many local residents. This included workers in the construction and transport industries who have lost their jobs or are on unpaid leave as a result of the illegal movement. Has the HKCTU done anything to help them? I doubt it - unless Lee ordered a complete media blackout on such efforts. Perhaps he knew the workers most affected were not HKCTU members - but the public doesn't.

Either way the NED and ACILS have some explaining to do.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 10/17/2014 page10)