A rising political star and the lawmaker representing the functional constituency of the rural group Heung Yee Kuk have both been found to be British nationals, according to new revelations from the leaked Panama Papers.

The Basic Law stipulates that the Chief Executive, members of the Executive Council, principal officials and lawmakers should be Chinese citizens who are Hong Kong permanent residents with no right of abode in any foreign country.

Documents related to Hong Kong companies were acquired by Ming Pao, HK01 and Next Magazine from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which co-ordinated reporting efforts when papers were leaked from the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca.

Lau Ming-wai.
Pro-Beijing politician Lau Ming-wai. File Photo; Stand News.

Lau Ming-wai, son of property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung and chairman of the government’s Commission on Youth, was listed as a British national when he was a director of a Beauty Opal Ltd. in September 2008.

Offshore companies 

Lau confirmed to Ming Pao that he had no plans to give up his UK nationality. He said that his mother applied for it on his behalf when he was young.

Last week, Lau commented on recent Hong Kong independence movement on a RTHK programme, saying that there was no contradiction between being a Hongkonger and a Chinese.

“Why can’t one proudly admit that one’s a Hongkonger, and at the same time admit one’s a Chinese?” he said.

He also failed to declare his three offshore companies when he was a member of the Commission on Poverty. But he told Sing Tao Daily that they were unregistered or dissolved before he took the role.

Lau Wong-fat.
Lau Wong-fat. File

Meanwhile, Heung Yee Kuk functional constituency lawmaker Lau Wong-fat was listed as British as a director of a N.T. Development Ltd. in July 2011.

An assistant of Lau Wong-fat told Ming Pao that he only owned a British Dependent Territories citizen passport. The dependent territories passport was no longer valid after the 1997 handover.

The former Heung Yee Kuk chairman has been a lawmaker since 1982. He was also an Executive Council member between 2009 and 2012.

His son Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, the incumbent chairman of Heung Yee Kuk, was also a director and is listed as British. Kenneth Lau is rumoured to be considering a run as a Heung Yee Kuk constituency lawmaker to replace his father, who has been in hospital for months.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.