Several years ago, a hit-and-run driver in Baoding city in Hebei province was chased down and arrested by the local police.
Rather than coming clean or showing remorse, the young male driver behaved cockily and yelled at the police officers.
“Do you know who my father is? My father is Li Gang (我爸是李剛)! Charge me if you can, go ahead!” he said, referring to the then deputy commissioner of the Baoding police department.
Since then, “My father is Li Gang” has become a catchphrase in Chinese online forums, with netizens deploying the term to mock the modern-day young aristocrats who throw their weight around using the power and influence of their parents.
Now, let’s come to Hong Kong.
Media reports have said recently that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s wife, Regina Tong, ordered airport staff to take a left-behind carry-on bag into the restricted area and deliver it to her daughter at a boarding gate.
According to the reports, aviation security staff tried to explain to Regina that airport regulations require that a passenger needs to identify any missing baggage on his or her own and go through regular baggage screening.
However, the Leungs sought to have the rules bypassed.
It is reported that Leung’s daughter, Leung Chung-yan, who was preparing to catch a flight to San Francisco, rang up her dad and asked him to intervene.
The chief executive then spoke to an officer at the scene over the phone, after which a Cathay Pacific employee took the bag through the security checkpoint and handed it to Leung’s daughter in the restricted area.
According to the guidelines laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization on handling passengers’ carry-on luggage, security staff at airport checkpoints must “check that the luggage belongs to the passenger on-site and place it on the inspection table” in order to make sure there isn’t any dangerous item in the luggage that might put other passengers at risk.
As Leung has acknowledged that he did speak with the airport staff over the phone about his daughter’s left-behind bag, it is apparent that the chief executive’s intervention has led to a serious breach of airport security rules.
We can deem the incident as being the Hong Kong version of “My father is Li Gang”.
Even though there was no dangerous item in Leung Chung-yan’s luggage, the chief executive was wrong in suggesting to the airport staff that his daughter be spared the standard security check procedures.
Calls for bypassing of the rules would mean that he might have abused his power.
According to our laws, such as the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, Legco members are entitled to certain privileges under some circumstances in order to allow them to carry out their duties, but there are strict limits on the privileges.
And the law applies only to people holding public office.
Obviously, Leung’s daughter doesn’t fall into this category and therefore shouldn’t have been entitled to any privilege under all circumstances.
The chief executive’s conduct has once again dealt a serious blow to the rule of law in our city.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 12.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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