Chief Executive Leung Chun-yin is under fire from pan-democrats after he filed a libel case against lawmaker Kenneth Leung over the UGL affair.
The pan-democrats are calling the lawsuit an abuse of power, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
CY Leung brought the lawsuit after the legislator said the former has been under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over secret payments he received from Australian firm UGL for which he paid no tax.
He received the payment, part of a deal over his former property services company, after he became chief executive.
Lawmaker Charles Mok, who represents the information technology sector, said the lawsuit appears to be a tool to influence a select committee formed last year by the Legislative Council to investigate the UGL saga.
CY Leung has denied any wrongdoing.
Civic Party legislator Dennis Kwok, a barrister by profession, said Hong Kong is not Singapore, where the government has been used to sue dissidents for libel.
And Lam Cheuk-ting from the Democratic Party said the lawsuit will not achieve its purpose of suppressing the UGL controversy.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Leung refused to comment as the case has entered the judicial process, saying only the chief executive has set a bad precedent.
National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee member Rita Fan defended CY Leung, saying his right to sue should be respected.
Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, who is running to succeed CY Leung, said the lawsuit might create the impression that someone is trying to use his power to force another to bend.
Barrister Ronny Tong, convenor of the Path of Democracy think-tank and a former lawmaker, said the lawsuit hinges on whether the defendant can prove his assertion.
Kenneth Leung does not enjoy legislative privilege in this instance because he made the assertion outside the chamber, Tong said.
Tong said if Kenneth Leung loses, he might face up to several millions of dollars in compensatory damages to the plaintiff.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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