Leung Chun-ying’s threat to sue Apple Daily over an article alleging corruption is “ridiculous” and a “terrible signal”.
That’s according to Jose Carlos Ugaz, chairman of world anti-graft watchdog Transparency International.
“If you have done nothing wrong, why try to stop people from talking about it?” Ugaz told reporters Wednesday.
He said no person — no matter if he is a king, prime minister or president — should be above the law.
Ugaz is on a two-day visit to Hong Kong that includes meetings with officials from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
The Sept. 8 editorial said pursuing Leung for corruption should be made top priority.
The article was referring to HK$50 million (US$6.45 million) in secret payments Leung received from Australian engineering firm UGL that was reportedly agreed before he became chief executive and paid out after he took office.
Reports in October 2014 said Leung received the payment as part of the UGL purchase of Leung’s real estate firm DTZ. Leung allegedly received the money after he became chief executive and paid no tax.
Leung’s lawyers from Sit, Fung, Kwong and Shum sent a 14-page letter to Apple Daily chief editor Chan Pui-man in September, saying the article “falsely, viciously and maliciously accused Leung as being corrupt”.
The letter demanded the editorial be withdrawn or a lawsuit will be brought against Apple Daily.
Ugaz said he supports further investigation into the UGL saga, adding it might have involved a criminal offense.
He said Leung had told him during a meeting on Tuesday that anti-corruption efforts in Hong Kong will continue.
He said he had a sense Leung believed his own words.
Ugaz said he pressed ICAC chief Simon Peh about the removal of senior officer Rebecca Li from her post and was told it was a matter of performance.
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