Recently, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying raised some eyebrows when he sent a legal letter to Apple Daily over a Sept. 8 editorial alleging corruption.
Leung warned the paper to retract the comments or risk a lawsuit.
It is important to note that issuing a legal letter against someone doesn’t mean the matter is under legal proceedings.
In most cases, a legal letter is one way of bluffing. Perhaps only one in a thousand legal letters end up in court.
It was not the first legal letter Leung had sent in which he threatened the media, intending to silence it — and it will not be the last.
However, given that the 2017 chief executive election is only five months away, Leung could be trying to send a couple of important messages to the public and his political opponents.
The first message is likely that he is determined to seek a second-term even if he knows his opponents are going to use the UGL saga to smear him.
The second message could be that Beijing has not explicitly told him not to run, which means the office of the next CE is up for grabs.
As far as the anti-Leung forces in the pro-establishment camp are concerned, the ball is now in their court
They have a tough decision to make — should they continue to bet against Leung or should they capitulate and fall into line, particularly when their No. 1 hopeful, Financial Secretary John Tsang, seems to be wavering over whether to join the race?
Let’s go back to Leung’s letter.
We have yet to hear of anyone being convicted of libel, except in Singapore and China.
The arguments his attorney made in the letter are naive and flimsy and cannot stand up to the most basic scrutiny.
For example, the letter said Leung’s departure agreement with the Australian firm UGL did not involve any kick-backs nor was it a secret agreement and therefore did not need to be declared to the Executive Council secretariat.
A layman like me can tell that what determines if the UGL deal needs to be declared is not whether it is a secret agreement but whether it constitutes any conflict of interest.
On the other hand, the letter said Apple Daily intended to “obstruct Leung from exercising his fundamental right under Article 26 of the Basic Law to stand for the 2017 CE election” by maliciously referring to him as “Liar Ying” and “689”.
To me, this just sounds absolutely hilarious.
How could anybody deprive Leung of his right to seek reelection just by calling him names?
Are the people of Hong Kong powerless to stop him from seeking another term?
Of course not.
Our fellow citizens showed what they are capable of in the face of oppression during the Occupy Central movement.
It is just a matter of time before they rise up again.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 4
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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