Hong Kong’s corruption watchdog has arrested and charged lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung with one count of misconduct in public office, contrary to Common Law, in relation to a donation he accepted from Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.

occupy long hair leung kwok hung
Leung Kwok-hung. File photo: HKFP.

The charge alleges that Leung, as a public official between May 22, 2012 and June 23, 2016, wilfully and intentionally misconducted himself by failing to declare his acceptance of a payment of HK$250,000 through Jimmy Lai’s assistant Mark Herman Simon on May 22, 2012.

Leung, former chairman of the League of Social Democrats, has been released on bail. He will appear at the Eastern Magistracy at 9:30am on Friday when the prosecution will apply to transfer the case to the District Court.

In response to the charges, Leung said on Thursday before the LegCo meeting that “it was nothing special” and the incident amounted to “finding excuses for punishment.”

jimmy lai
Jimmy Lai. File photo: HKFP.

He added that the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s collection of evidence and arrest were conducted two years ago, and that he did not know the court date until until Thursday.

Leung said that he has not thought about whether the charge was related to the election in September, but he has yet to officially announce his run.

Asked whether political pressure was involved, Leung said “you have to ask the ICAC, even a blind person could see that.”

Previous case

In December last year, the Committee on Members’ Interests of the LegCo found complaints against Leung and Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan – who received separate donations from Lai – to be unsubstantiated.

From left, Leung Kwok-hung, Jimmy Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan.
From left, Leung Kwok-hung, Jimmy Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan. File and Leung Kwok-hung.

The committee ruled that Lee and Leung accepted the sums on behalf of their parties, rather than as lawmakers in their personal capacities. Thus they need not have declared the donations. The votes were originally tied by 3-3 between three pro-Beijing and three pan-democrat camp lawmakers but – as committee chairman – lawmaker Ip Kwok-him was obligated to vote against the complaint.

Simon told HKFP that he had “no comment.”

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.