"These people will be around for a long time. They will be masters of Hong Kong for the next 40 to 50 years.
"I challenge Xi Jinping (the Chinese president) to answer this question: even if you bring your weight to bear and somehow get your proposal passed, how are you going to govern Hong Kong when this is your public for the next five decades?"
Mr Leong has flatly rejected the proposal from Beijing and said he was sure it would be voted down by the democrats in Hong Kong's Legislative Council.
"No matter what tinkering you may do, the crux of it, if you strip it to the bones, is that Beijing wants a pre-election before the election. It is as naked as that. How can you say this is the Communist party honouring its handover promises?" he said.
"I am quite sure that the proposal for electoral reform sent by Beijing must be vetoed."
"The report that was presented to Beijing by Hong Kong was, well, I have used the word mendacious," he said. "It was a case of pre-emptive cringe, asking them what they would like to hear and then telling them that."
He also suggested that the committee could be made more representative, unlike the current election committee which is stuffed with Beijing's cronies. "I don't think the game is lost," he said. "We could do a lot if people believe the government is acting in good faith. The problem is this breakdown in trust".
Mr Leong said he was now "prepared to be led" by the students. But he added: I'm very worried, extremely anxious. You could have a repeat of Tiananmen, that is the worst case scenario.
"I still trust that there are sensible right-minded people in the administration to make sure that what I am most anxious about will not happen."
Or, it could adjust the committee charged with picking candidates for the top post to make it more reflective of public opinion. Currently, that 1,200-member committee is stacked with pro-Beijing members.
This is a prolonged, sophisticated multi-stage political battle between two resourceful and capable adversaries.
If you want to understand what’s going on in Hong Kong, you can’t focus solely on the beauty of democracy and the adorableness of the students. The democracy movement is also embedded in a matrix of money, subterfuge, compromise, subornation, propaganda, and manipulation. In other words, it’s good old-fashioned politics, Hong Kong—and Beijing—style.