22 April 2019
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying insists he has the power to interfere in the Legco probe into the UGL case, and it is necessary for him to do so. Photo: CNSA
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying insists he has the power to interfere in the Legco probe into the UGL case, and it is necessary for him to do so. Photo: CNSA

UGL case: Why we have to do the unthinkable against all odds

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding have been caught colluding with each other to compromise the ongoing Legislative Council probe into the UGL case. Both admitted to the collusion.

According to commonly accepted moral standards, both of them should have formally apologized to the public and stepped down.

Unfortunately, under the reign of CY Leung, common moral rules and political decency that are taken for granted in any truly democratic society simply don’t apply in our city.

Instead, more than one week into the saga, the two have shown no remorse for what they did, let alone apologize and resign from office.

Over the past week all that Chow did was to continue to repeat his “three nos” on television: “there was no violation of the law, no breach of the Legco rules of procedure, and no cover-up” involved in the entire incident.

Our chief executive is even worse. Ever since his collusion with Chow came to light, CY Leung has remained as defiant and disdainful as ever in front of the media, insisting that he has both the “power and necessity” to do what he did.

Therefore, as he claimed, he was fully justified in interfering in the Legco probe and what he did was proper.

And it just got worse. Without even bothering to try to explain away his misconduct, Leung tried to divert public attention from the scandal by coming after lawmaker Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong relentlessly in public and demanding that he quit the Legco probe panel.

The CE has sued Kenneth Leung for defamation over the UGL accusations he has made, and as such, it will constitute a serious conflict of interest if he continues to stay on the Legco panel conducting the probe.

In the face of CY Leung’s blatant abuse of his executive power, I believe what the Legco should do right away is to hold him and Holden Chow accountable for their misdeeds by impeaching them simultaneously so as to uphold justice and restore public confidence in our legislature.

Although there is no statute in Hong Kong against abuse of power, dereliction of duty, or interference in Legco investigation committed by the chief executive, the Basic Law has laid down a mechanism through which the CE can be removed from office under such circumstances.

Under Article 73, once a motion of impeachment against the chief executive moved jointly by at least one-fourth of the lawmakers is passed, the Legco can trigger the impeachment process by commissioning the Court of Final Appeal to set up an independent inquiry into the matter, and then write a final report to the Legco.

If the independent inquiry finds the CE guilty of any of those charges, the next thing the Legco will have to do is to move a motion to impeach the CE and put it to the vote.

Once the motion is passed by a two-thirds majority, the Legco will have to officially submit its decision to impeach the CE to the central government, and let it decide what to do.

As far as the process of removing a Legco member from office is concerned, Article 79 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that it requires a two-thirds majority in Legco to pass a motion of impeachment against a lawmaker for misconduct, violation of the oath of office or dereliction of duty.

Once the motion is passed, the lawmaker in question will automatically be removed from his or her office.

In fact, the pan-democrats in Legco have already tabled a motion of impeachment against both Holden Chow and CY Leung to the Legco president, which will be put to the vote on June 7.

Our impeachment motion against Holden Chow is based on the grounds that 1) he has inappropriately tried to influence the direction of an ongoing Legco investigation and thereby violated the standard procedure, 2) he has lied about the details of his collusion with the chief executive, and 3) his act has seriously undermined public confidence in the impartiality, credibility and independence of the Legco.

As far as CY Leung is concerned, we are impeaching him on grounds that his improper interference in an ongoing Legco investigation into his alleged misconduct amounts to contempt of the legislature, thereby constituting a dereliction of duty under Article 73 of the Basic Law.

True, we are perfectly aware that impeaching a CE who is about to leave office in a month’s time won’t make much difference, not to mention that the chance of such a motion getting passed is almost zero.

However, as people’s representatives who have been elected with a public mandate to enforce oversight on the government, we are both duty bound and morally bound to do the unthinkable.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 26

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Legco member representing the Legal functional constituency (2012-2016) and a founding member of Civic Party

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