22 February 2019
Holden Chow finally agreed to step down from the Legco committee investigating the UGL affair, but insisted he had done nothing wrong. Photo: HKEJ
Holden Chow finally agreed to step down from the Legco committee investigating the UGL affair, but insisted he had done nothing wrong. Photo: HKEJ

Is he Idiot of the Year or merely Idiot of the Week?

There really is only one real question: Is legislator Holden Chow Ho-ding Idiot of the Week or Idiot of the Year?

Mr. Chow is clearly an ambitious fellow and has worked out that the best way of advancing his career is by bootlicking and pleasing those in a position to help him.

Thus he became a patsy for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who, to put it mildly, is not happy about the Legco investigation into the HK$50 million he received from the Australian engineering group UGL and did not declare to the public.

So far, so obvious but what to make of a patsy who is so singularly incapable of covering his tracks?

Even someone as computer-illiterate as myself knows that an edited Word document shows up the fingerprints of the editor and, equally, that the source of these edits can be erased without too much difficulty.

Mr. Chow, however, is either staggeringly careless or staggeringly stupid when, as vice chairman of the investigation committee, he presented amendments made to the committee’s terms of reference as being his own while keeping in the editing format that clearly shows they came from the Chief Executive’s office.

Once the cat was out of the bag Mr. Leung, on one of his rare stopovers in Hong Kong before rushing back across the border, self-righteously declared that he had every right to express his views on the scope of the committee’s inquiry because he was the subject of the probe.

This is so ludicrously wrong at every level that it is hard to know where to start. Nevertheless, let’s stick to the basics which are that in an inquiry of this kind the accused person has every right to be heard but no right whatsoever to try and determine the scope of the investigation.

Secondly, even if this principle were to be ignored, Mr. Leung could have publicly approached the committee and expressed his opinion. Why did he need to surreptitiously use a patsy for this purpose?

Starry Lee Wai-king, the chairwoman of Mr. Chow’s party, struggled to find a way of defending Mr. Chow but finally came up with words to the effect that he might have erred but, hey ho, he is inexperienced and really does not know what he is doing.

After a long delay, Mr. Chow finally agreed to step down from the committee on Friday, at least three days too late but even then insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Yet he cannot deny that he not only misled the committee over the attempt to disguise the CE’s input into their discussions but also continued to mislead until he had no alternative but to stop.

In case anyone has missed the extent of this half-baked amateurism, we are now hearing from various pro-government supporters that because of this controversy the committee should be disbanded. (Mr. Leung likes that idea big time.)

Meanwhile, in a heavy-handed and rather unconvincing attempt to take the heat off Mr. Chow – now officially declared to be incompetent by his party leader – Mr. Leung has attempted to switch the spotlight onto legislator Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, who he is suing for defamation and therefore, says CY, is prejudiced against him and thus cannot be a member of the committee.

Oh dear, oh dear, this is the sort of thing that gives amateurism an even worse name.

The irony of all this is that CY had nothing to fear from this committee, which is chaired by Paul Tse, a pro-government loyalist, and contains a majority of pro-government members. Moreover, the comittee has no power to summon witnesses or even to insist on the production of evidence.

In all likelihood this investigation will fizzle out yet; such is the Chief Executive’s determination to neither admit to wrongdoing nor even contemplate that his affairs should be properly investigated that he used underhanded methods to thwart this investigation.

Clearly the credibility of the legislature and its members is very low on Mr. Leung’s list of priorities. He believes that the Hong Kong public will simply shrug their collective shoulders as they forget and forgive. Let’s see if he is right.

– Contact us at [email protected]


Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author

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