Pan-democratic lawmakers focused on the recent staff shakeup at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and a HK$50 million payment from Australian firm UGL to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, during his last question and answer session of the current Legislative Council term.
In response to questions from the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu on the matter, Leung said documents relating to the UGL payment were made public two years ago, and he answered questions about it at the time.
“Answering these questions are easy – answering them would not cause self-incrimination, but after any complaint has been lodged with the ICAC, the complainant and the person complained against cannot and should not discuss the details,” he said.
Yeung then asked whether that meant Leung was indirectly admitting that he is being investigated by the commission over the UGL payment, and that he had to remove Rebecca Li, former acting Head of Operations, from the ICAC.
Leung replied that he and the commissioner of the ICAC “completely followed the existing mechanism.” Leung said previously that he was not involved in the decision to remove Li from her position.
The Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun said Leung refused to amend the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance during his tenure, his office refused to submit declaration of interest documents to the ICAC after a year, and appointed Maria Tam, who has a “strong political bias,” as the chair of the top advisory committee of the ICAC.
“How can we have faith in the anti-graft system under you?” To said.
Leung said To’s statements were mostly speculative. He added that the personnel issues at the ICAC and government departments should not be discussed publicly, but that the commissioner answered the questions due to strong public interest.
“To’s statements were not only unfair to me, but very unfair to the staff members of the ICAC,” Leung said.
The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung also criticised Leung over the issues. He mistakenly said Leung received money from the “UGC,” though he corrected himself right after.
Leung, in response, said again that he has already answered every single question before, as he checked the LegCo record before attending.
“Mr. Cheung even said the company’s name incorrectly, which explains his knowledge in this matter,” Leung said with a smile.
Leung reiterated his previous statement that the payment from UGL was a normal post-service arrangement and not a commission rebate, as some media outlets reported last week.
“The agreement was public – which part of it said commission rebate? All in all, we should speak the facts,” he said.
Cheung also asked him whether he will seek re-election, even though he “has no integrity.” Leung said he had nothing to add.
Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun was the only member of the pro-Beijing camp to question Leung over the ICAC shakeup.
He asked how much Leung valued the work of the ICAC, saying that the commissioner of the agency reports to him according to the Basic Law.
Leung said it did not mean he would intervene in the work of the agency.
“If I intervened in every single matter of every official who reports to me, not to say 48 hours in a day, I cannot handle it even with 4800 hours in a day,” he said.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) July 14, 2016
Leung encountered protests as the question and answer session started, as well as during the session.
Pan-democratic lawmakers walked into the chamber at the beginning holding a banner saying that Leung “first destroyed the University of Hong Kong and then destroyed the ICAC.”
Lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip, Leung Kwok-hung, Ray Chan Chi-cheun and Kwok Ka-ki were escorted out of the chamber during the course of the Q&A for protesting against Leung. They held up props criticising Leung for destroying the ICAC, and some even threw them across the room at Leung, though they did not reach him.
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