Seasoned journalist Michael Chugani wrote an article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal recently, quoting the argument of Simon Peh, Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, that he was justified in demoting his deputy Rebecca Li Bo-lan due to her unsatisfactory job performance back in July.
In his article Chugani also questioned my motives for linking Li’s demotion with the UGL investigation against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying I could be politically motivated in doing so.
He also said the ICAC is under no obligation to disclose details concerning any ongoing investigation.
I feel compelled to respond to Chugani’s article, in order to set the record straight.
First, let me make one thing very clear. Under Leung’s agreement with UGL, he, among other duties, has to promote business operations for the Australian firm by acting as both intermediary and consultant for the company.
Leung received the money from UGL in two separate payments in December 2012 and December 2013, after he had assumed office of the Chief Executive, and he never declared his agreement with UGL nor receipt of those payments to the Executive Council Secretariat.
How could it be morally and legally defensible for our government head to continue to receive huge payments from a private company and agree to serve as its consultant while he is in office?
If what Leung did is okay, does that mean any newly elected lawmaker is free to conclude contracts with big businesses before he or she is sworn in for handsome consultancy fees, and then not disclose that by using Leung’s excuse? What kind of logic is that?
On the other hand, unlike his predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who turned over his power to appoint key personnel in the ICAC to the then Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung when he was under graft investigation by the agency in order to avoid suspicion, Leung did not do so while he himself was being investigated over the UGL case.
And on Leung’s watch, Rebecca Li, who was in charge of the investigation against him, was suddenly removed from office.
Even a person who knows nothing about how things work in the ICAC can tell it just doesn’t feel right.
Besides, contrary to what Chugani said in his article, under Article 30 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, details of any ongoing investigation are actually allowed to be made public in the presence of substantial and reasonable arguments.
I am going to demand that an independent inquiry be immediately conducted into the whole matter by invoking the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance after the new Legco holds its first meeting on Oct. 12 in order to let the public know the whole truth.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 7.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
Related story: Rebecca Li needs to clear the air on why she quit ICAC
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