Date
18 October 2017
An Australian media report on how Leung Chun-ying got millions in secret fees. The man behind the breaking news is John Garnaut, Fairfax Media's Asia Pacific editor. Photo: http://www.theage.com.au, Apple Daily
An Australian media report on how Leung Chun-ying got millions in secret fees. The man behind the breaking news is John Garnaut, Fairfax Media's Asia Pacific editor. Photo: http://www.theage.com.au, Apple Daily

CY Leung, Bo Xilai and the Aussie China hand reporter

Leung Chun-ying may not have seen this coming. Having risen to Hong Kong’s highest office as chief executive, he is about to fall heavily.

Just like Bo Xilai, once a rising political star in mainland China but now serving life in prison.

Beijing has backed Leung since the start of the civil disobedience campaign but it is hard to see how Hong Kong’s chief executive could still keep his post after news broke about him pocketing as much as HK$50 million (US$6.44 million) in secret fees from Australian engineering company UGL in return for supporting its Asian ambitions, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.

Jerome Cohen, an expert on the Chinese legal system, was quoted by Voice of America as saying the scandal could be the best excuse for Beijing to oust Leung, especially at a time when the anti-corruption campaign is gaining traction.

The man behind that breaking news is John Garnaut, Asia Pacific editor of Fairfax Media.

While many are wondering who leaked the information specifically to Garnaut and for what purpose, the informant obviously knew what he was doing because Garnaut has built a reputation as a China hand during his news reporting stint in China between 2007 and 2012.

The New York Times once said he has good connections and sources — guanxi, if you like — in China and that makes his stories on Chinese politics famous for great insight.

Garnaut had deep coverage on Bo’s corruption case and even wrote a book called “The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo”. After returning to Australia, Garnaut has been writing stories about Chinese politics from time to time.

Meanwhile, Garnaut’s partners, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, are also some of the top names in Australia’s investigative journalism field, having won numerous journalism awards.

It is not yet known who the whistle-blower really wants to target — UGL or Leung — but the fact the three top journalists Down Under were chosen to lead reports on the scandal is surely thought-provoking.

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TL/AC/JL

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