Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said the HK$50 million he received from Australian engineering firm UGL was a “normal post-service arrangement,” after a former lawmaker within the pro-Beijing camp launched a fresh legislative election campaign targeting Leung’s involvement in the secret payment.

Fairfax Media carried the UGL story in October 2014, a week into the pro-democracy Occupy protests, reporting that Leung received the money in connection with a bid by UGL for DTZ – where Leung was a director. The deal became more controversial when it was later revealed that there was a larger rival bid for DTZ from a mainland company.

Leung chun-ying. Photo: GovHK screenshot.

“This incident – this agreement – is a normal post-service arrangement,” Leung said on Monday night before a trip to France. “The Australian media which first reported the incident had already made a clarification five or six days after the report and has not followed up on the issue.”

Leung’s response was the same as that made by his office after the incident was exposed. He has always denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the payment was for agreeing not to join or set up a competing company within two years, though he was also paid for being an occasional adviser to the new firm.

Chim Pui-chung.

‘Misleading the public’

The latest response came after Chim Pui-chung, a former financial services sector lawmaker, launched a new campaign to run in the Legislative Council election in the Hong Kong Island constituency in September. Chim said his sole purpose for running was to monitor the government’s handling of the secret payment.

Chim, considered a pro-Beijing figure, questioned whether Leung had explained the payment to the Central Government.

He added that Beijing should explain the incident to Hong Kong people, otherwise it would be seen as a co-conspirator with Leung to mislead the public and Chief Executive election committee members.

“I don’t have the power to pull him down, but [I have] to let 1,200 election committee members and leaders in Beijing know the demands of Hong Kong people,” Chim said. “If he cannot meet the Central Government’s requirements, he should not be supported.”

No fear of dirt

Chim said he was not running for money and fame, and he showed reporters a confirmation letter from the Wynn Macau casino that he had won HK$9.77 million there last week. Chim has often revealed his gambling winnings in the past.

He added that he was not afraid of smear campaigns against him.

“The three worst things that can happen to a man are, first, being sent to prison. Second, getting cancer. Third, getting addicted to politics. I have had all three,” he said.

“What dirt can make me afraid?” he added.

Kris Cheng

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.