Date
17 January 2019
Pro-establishment members on a Legco panel that was tasked with looking into the controversial dealings of CY Leung (pictured) are said to be in a predicament as to whether to shut down the inquiry for good quickly. Photo: CNSA
Pro-establishment members on a Legco panel that was tasked with looking into the controversial dealings of CY Leung (pictured) are said to be in a predicament as to whether to shut down the inquiry for good quickly. Photo: CNSA

Why some pro-Beijing lawmakers consider UGL case a ‘lesser evil’

As the Department of Justice has decided not to press charges against former chief executive Leung Chun-ying in relation to the UGL payments saga, a Legco select committee set up in November 2016 to look into the matter is also expected to call it quits soon.

However, according to sources, pro-establishment lawmakers, who currently account for 7 out of the total 11 members of the Legco UGL inquiry committee, are now caught in a predicament over whether to allow the Leung inquiry, which has virtually remained “in a vegetative state” for the past 17 months, to die just like that.

It is because according to the sequential order laid down by the Legco Secretariat, once the plug on the UGL inquiry is officially pulled, the next inquiry committee in line to start working will be the one to probe the abrupt resignation of Rebecca Li Bo-lan, the former deputy commissioner and acting chief of operations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), back in summer 2016.

The problem is, as far as some members of the pro-Beijing camp are concerned, they simply don’t want the inquiry committee on Rebecca Li’s resignation to materialize.

The reason is that while the UGL inquiry is basically moribund, and hence not politically destructive at all, there is a concern among the pro-Beijing camp that a new inquiry into Rebecca Li’s sudden departure from the ICAC could present a whole new ball game, and could bring about a lot of new variables and uncertainties ahead.

And since the Legco Secretariat can only sustain the operation of one inquiry at any given time, as long as the UGL investigation is kept alive, the pro-establishment camp can stall the probe into Rebecca Li’s resignation.

That said, as the UGL select committee is scheduled to hold its next, or may be the last, meeting on January 10, members of the pro-establishment camp are now weighing the pros and cons over whether to shut it down for good.

In other words, the fate of the UGL inquiry is still undecided.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who is also a sitting member of the UGL inquiry panel, has called upon the pro-Beijing camp to ditch cold political calculations and let the panel continue with its work, as there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Leung’s dealings with UGL.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 25

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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