28 October 2016
Ordinary citizens stand with a cabin crew union during a protest over the Leung family airport incident. Photo: HKEJ
Ordinary citizens stand with a cabin crew union during a protest over the Leung family airport incident. Photo: HKEJ

Is the government covering up for Leung in airport saga?

If it smells like a cover-up, it might be.

Some people have made up their minds while the government continues to insist no harm was done in the Leung family airport saga, so it wants us to forget about it.

That would have been easy, except that the public has become invested in it.

On Sunday, hundreds — estimates vary from 1,000 by the police to 2,500 by organizers — stood with a cabin crew union to protest the incident and demand a meeting with Civil Aviation chief Norman Lo.

Now comes former legislator David Chu, a Hong Kong deputy to China’s legislature, who suggests something sinister.

“None of the [staff involved] has dared speak out… I think there must be a problem and this is not healthy,” he said.

“I suspect the incident … involves misuse of power or influence.”

Chu used “white terror”, a euphemism for suppression, to describe how some airport staff involved in the incident might have come under pressure.

After saying no security regulation was breached and no harm was done, the government made a bad situation worse because now it is being accused of trying to clear Leung Chun-ying of any responsibility.

The accusations have not spared the airline, airport officials and related agencies. Cathay Pacific remains silent while an official report from the Airport Authority is pending.

It’s this niggling issue involving privilege for Leung and his family that is riling up many people.

They might agree that airport security or passenger safety was not compromised but they insist the Leungs received special treatment and that is unacceptable.

That’s not to say Leung has no support from members of the public.

The Staff and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines, a wing of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, said such incidents are common in Hong Kong airport.

Airlines exercise their discretion in handling any luggage left behind, it said. (When asked to cite a specific situation, it couldn’t). 

Several Leung supporters got into minor scuffles with the protesters whom they accused of insulting Leung and ruining Hong Kong’s reputation.

But the facts speak for themselves.

Leung acknowledged talking to airport staff about his daughter’s luggage but denied abusing his authority. The luggage was brought over to a restricted area by someone other than the passenger.

In that instance, civil aviation regulations were breached.

We won’t get the full picture until the staff concerned come forward.

That they might be under some sort of pressure to stay silent is only fueling public anger and suspicions.

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EJ Insight writer

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