Three years ago this week, Occupy Central was in full swing. It was also around this time, in October 2014, that the then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying declared that he was fully convinced that foreign forces had been meddling in the city’s politics. When asked to put forward some proof of this, he told us all he would substantiate his claims with evidence at an appropriate time.

The ‘appropriate time’ evidently never arrived. Up to and after the time CY was told by Beijing not to seek a second term, and thus decline five more years ‘for family reasons’, we heard not a dickie bird from him (or anyone else) about who was behind this dastardly plot.

Leung Chun-ying. Photo: Leung Chun-ying.

I find this deeply disappointing. If CY had declared that he was in possession of clear evidence the CIA had hatched and executed a plot to put a 16-year-old boy in charge of civil disobedience in Hong Kong, I would have had the first act of the documentary movie written in a day. Forget the Snowden story, this would have been the Everest of cinematic recreation.

Yet, on reflection, perhaps this was not the external shenanigans CY was referring to. He may have been aware of a British Foreign Office plot to send Benedict Rogers over here to dismantle society as we know it. This revolutionary firebrand was on RTHK a while ago saying that the purpose of his visit was to have ‘private discussions with old and new friends’.

Ha, that old canard! Rogers does cloak himself as a mild-mannered, middle-aged Catholic wearing glasses, so it’s best we are on our guard.

Which brings us to Carrie Lam. The incumbent Chief Executive joined the colonial civil service in 1980. It was a long time ago.  Could it be dark ops of the most devilish kind to which CY was referring? Known in the trade as a sleeper, Carrie could have been planted in the establishment with a brief to reach high office over many years.

There are precedents for this. Donald Maclean, in Britain in the 1950s, was in the pay of Russian intelligence as he reached high office in the British equivalent. Was CY intending to reveal the evidence of his Chief Secretary being the ‘foreign forces’ among us? I can’t believe so.

The Occupy protest site in Mong Kok. Photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

Maclean was ideologically-conflicted, charismatic and a drunk. Which disqualifies Carrie on two counts, at least. So maybe CY’s dark warnings were not about her.

Then whom? Could he have meant me? I was a denizen of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club back in the day, and would lunch with Richard Hughes (with others) at the Hilton Grill from time to time. Hughes was a correspondent of magisterial renown, living in Hong Kong, but also widely understood to freelance for MI5. Was CY a waiter there in the late 70s and overheard something? Again, unlikely – and it doesn’t appear on his CV.

Surely – and avert your eyes here – CY was not making an oblique reference to President Xi himself. Around this time CY’s boss referred to the 79-day-long Umbrella Movement in an APEC summit meeting as a ‘massive infringement of the law in society’. This is pretty mild. Sitting in the middle of the road doing your homework is, most assuredly, a massive breach of some traffic ordinance or another. Yet by then CY’s ‘foreign forces’ hare was running. Could it be CY was referring to factions in China. And were these even ‘foreign’ in the parlance of the day?

So come on, CY. Spill the beans. It’s been three years now. I can put you up in the Mira Hotel, and from there modest accommodation with Sri Lankan asylum seekers. But to get this story running, my script started, you have to be honest with me.

David Price

David Price arrived in Hong Kong in 1978. He wrote weekly columns for the SCMP, its Sunday Magazine and the ‘Village Life’ column for the Hong Kong Independent. He is now a movie screenwriter, although agents and producers, at every turn, would deny this. He was also once an actor, as a search for David Does Dallas would confirm.