On Monday, the Legislative Council Commission officially demanded that the four ousted Legco members — “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Dr. Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Dr. Lau Siu-lai — return all their salaries and reimbursable allowances they had received during their term of office before they were disqualified, ranging from HK$2.7 million to HK$3.1 million each.
The next thing the commission will do is to send every one of them a written notice demanding payment, and they will be given four weeks to reply.
The pan-democrats denounced the decision as “political persecution”. The four ousted lawmakers held a press conference to protest the decision, saying it is aimed at ruining their political career by forcing them into bankruptcy.
However, according to sources, even though Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who is also chairman of the commission, said that the commission decided to recover every single penny from the four ex-lawmakers because taxpayers’ money is involved, the decision is just a formality.
There is a lot of room for discussion and bargaining when it comes to the actual amount of money the four ousted lawmakers eventually have to return to Legco, according to some sources.
However, whether the commission would go easy on them depends largely on their attitude as well as the legal grounds they are going to cite in their written replies, sources said.
In fact, it is said that it just took an hour for members of the commission on Monday to reach consensus over the decision to recover funds from the foursome.
During the meeting, it is said that even some pro-establishment members pointed out that the situation with the four ousted lawmakers is fundamentally different from the Youngspiration duo, in that they did fulfil their official duties as lawmakers during their term in office prior to their disqualification by the court in July this year.
Given that, they suggested that they only need to return their unspent operating funds rather than all of their salaries and allowances. If members of the commission finally agree on this suggestion and then successfully hammer out a deal with the four, then all they need to pay back eventually could only be somewhere around HK$300,000 to HK$400,000 each.
Nevertheless, some in the pro-establishment camp criticized the four ousted lawmakers for holding the press conference to condemn the commission’s decision, saying their comments were unreasonable and unacceptable.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 28
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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