A Legislative Council meeting to discuss whether Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should be subject to sections of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance was unexpectedly adjourned on Thursday morning. The adjournment came after fewer than half of the expected lawmakers turned up, one short of the required number of members.
The meeting was set to discuss a motion put forward to LegCo by Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan on Wednesday, urging the government to expeditiously submit to the Council an amendment bill on the Ordinance to plug loopholes in the law.
If passed, the motion would ensure that the Chief Executive would not be above the law which applies to politically appointed officials and civil servants, Wong said previously.
Currently, sections 3 and 8 of the ordinance, on the offering or taking of bribes in relation to the government, do not apply to the Chief Executive.
According to a survey reported on Wednesday, the majority of Hong Kong people agree that the Independent Commission Against Corruption should investigate Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s HK$50 million secret payment from Australian corporation UGL.
Before the meeting was adjourned, lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit criticised Leung Chun-ying, saying he took the HK$50 million payment without declaring it and without paying tax.
Leong said secret payments such as this could continue to be made if Leung does not amend the anti-corruption law, as suggested by the independent committee in 2012.
However, lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, who proposed a counter amendment to the original amendment, said the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance already has other sections that cover the Chief Executive.
Tam said that the intention of section 3 of the ordinance is that civil servants must obtain the agreement of his or her superiors before taking or offering an advantage.
But the Chief Executive is the head of the HKSAR, without any direct superior, so if he is monitored by section 3, there will be a constitutional problem, he added.
After lawmakers who proposed the motion and put forward the amendments had spoken, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam was due to make a response.
Before Lam had spoken, lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung called for a quorum count, and the meeting was adjourned after 15 minutes.
Leung said it was the duty of a lawmaker to call for a quorum count. The 43 members of the pro-Beijing camp should be inside the LegCo chamber to support Carrie Lam explaining why Leung Chun-ying did not amend the law, Leung added.
He said he has no power to stop lawmakers from entering the chamber.
LegCo president Jasper Tsang said he owed the public a response as he was not in the chamber.
He said that he was in an agreement with lawmaker Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen that Leung will take over as acting chairperson of the meeting between 11:00 and 11:30am. When the quorum count bell was ringing, Leung was taking over, he did not realise it and was late to be back in the chamber.
Tsang added that the Wednesday and Thursday meeting spent four hours for quorum count out of the 11-hour meeting, and this LegCo term had seen several adjournment due to quorum count.
He said this was not an ideal situation, and hoped the lawmakers who called for quorum count to understand working hours were wasted, people’s respect towards LegCo was decreased and public interest was hurt.
Leung Kwok-hung and lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip and Ray Chan Chi-chuen have repeatedly called for the quorum count to delay the meeting since Wednesday.
They were dissatisfied with Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por’s recent controversial ruling to stop their filibustering in the committee meetings last Friday, hence the action.