Now, Soros-funded NGOs in Hungary feeling the heat


PETALING JAYA: Billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF), which recently ignited accusations, debate and probes in Malaysia, is now feeling the heat in Hungary.

The vice-chairman of Hungary’s ruling party has called for all civil society organisations financed by Soros to be “swept out” of the country, reported Russian news portal RT.

According to Hir TV, Fidesz party’s Szilard Nemeth said non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Transparency International, financed by billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, ought to be banned from operating in Hungary.

Soros and his NGOs were “pushing global big capital and a related political correctness into Hungary”, claimed Nemeth at a news conference on Tuesday.

Last year, some pro-government groups in Malaysia had called on the government to act against NGOs which had been or were being funded by OSF, claiming the funds were being used to organise activities to oust the democratically-elected Barisan Nasional.

As a result, police started investigations into NGOs such as electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, the Malaysian Bar and news portal Malaysiakini.

On Nov 12, however, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the OSF had only been supporting environment-related programmes in Malaysia over the past decade.

“Police have not found any proof to show that OSF or NGOs in Malaysia are using foreign funds to organise activities that threaten the nation’s peace,” Nur Jazlan was quoted as saying by The Star.

However, he had said, police would continue their investigations.

According to the RT news portal, in September, Nemeth, who is also the deputy chairman of Hungary’s National Security Committee, had said he had submitted a list of 22 organisations “connected to the Soros network for the purpose of having these organisations screened”.

Nemeth said: “These organisations must be pushed back with all available tools, and I think they must be swept out, and now I believe the international conditions are right for this with the election of the new president (Donald Trump).”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is the leader of the populist right-wing party Fidesz, also took a dim view of Soros’s political activities, RT reported.

The portal reported that in an interview with the internet portal in December, Orban had said that 2017 would bring “about the extrusion of George Soros and the forces symbolised by him”.

“In every country, they will want to displace Soros,” Orban told journalists. “This can already be seen in Europe. They investigate where the money comes from, what kind of intelligence connections there are, which NGOs represent what interests.”

According to a proposal that has appeared on the newly published parliamentary agenda for 2017, Hungarian lawmakers are soon set to debate a bill allowing authorities to audit the executives of NGOs, something which to date is reserved for MPs and public officials in the country.

Meanwhile the OSF, which according to Reuters, funds over 60 NGOs in Hungary, has pledged to continue its work in Hungary.

“The Open Society Foundations will continue to work in Hungary despite government opposition to our mission of fairer, accountable societies,” the organisation’s president, Christopher Stone, wrote in an email to Bloomberg.

The OSF was set up by Hungarian-born Soros between the mid-1980s and early 1990s.