22 February 2019
Pan-democratic lawmakers gather in support of Kenneth Leung and announce a plan to impeach CY Leung (inset). Photos: HKEJ, CNSA
Pan-democratic lawmakers gather in support of Kenneth Leung and announce a plan to impeach CY Leung (inset). Photos: HKEJ, CNSA

Why the UGL Legco probe matters

In the US, President Donald Trump loves to send tweets to announce his latest policies and give his opinions on current affairs. In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying uses his blog to defend himself against allegations relating to the HK$50 million UGL payout saga.

It seems all he has time for these days is protecting his reputation rather than running the affairs of the government.

In the past six days, Leung published five blog posts on his government-run official website related to the UGL case. He used his blog to attack Kenneth Leung, a lawmaker from the accounting functional constituency, claiming conflict of interest in the latter’s role on a select committee investigating the UGL saga.

CY Leung wants Kenneth Leung to resign from the committee.

Indeed, CY’s escalating attacks on Kenneth Leung show his worries over the UGL case could be the last straw on the camel’s back, especially after CY directly intervened in the case by editing a document submitted by pro-establishment lawmaker Holden Chow’s to the Legislative Council in which the scope of the investigation had been changed.

However, it could be quite difficult for CY Leung to get rid of the stain on his reputation before his term of office expires next month.

Political critics say Leung does not want his personal record in Beijing linked to the UGL allegations that he received money from the Australian company and did not disclose it.

The Legco investigation and CY Leung’s direct attacks on Kenneth Leung show the former knows the UGL case could fester for a while.

Many Hong Kong people have no interest in getting involved in such an issue but they are keen to know what goes on behind the scenes.

If CY Leung is clean as he claims he is, why he is so eager to take action against the lawmaker?

Kenneth Leung has said that based on his professional qualification as a tax expert, the HK$50 million payout to Leung should have been subject to tax.

CY Leung insists that nothing there was taxable income.

If CY Leung can exclude this income from tax, he should share his secret with all taxpayers.

Eric Cheung, a legal professor in the University of Hong Kong, wrote on CY Leung’s Facebook page seeking clarification on the UGL case.

He posed eight questions to Leung including his position when he signed the agreement with UGL, the reason for Leung’s acceptance of the money and the timing of the payout.

On Monday morning, 26 democratic lawmakers hosted a press conference to show their support for Kenneth Leung and announced a plan to impeach CY Leung next month.

In a show of defiance, the pan-democrats issued a joint statement saying the way CY Leung conspired with Chow to steer the investigation in a direction that suits him is the worst case of government interference in the work of the legislature since the handover.

At the same time, Kenneth Leung insisted he will not bow to the CY Leung’s demand that he quit the probe panel.

Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok challenged CY Leung to “sue us all if you dare”, adding that the chief executive’s “almost crazy” actions give the public the impression that he has something to hide.

But on Sunday, CY Leung pointed the finger at politicians whom he accused of using the anti-graft body to attack officials. He said that the law should be changed to make it an offense for anyone to use law enforcement agencies such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption to attack those in authority.

He said everyone has the right to protect their reputation, including government officials.

But from his mindset, he thinks he should be protected against being criticized or being scrutinized by the public. It’s clear CY has something to hide. He should have no doubt why the UGL probe matters.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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