Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying misled the public by secretly intervening in an investigation into him, pro-democracy lawmakers have said.

Leung admitted on Monday that he approached pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding to alter the scope of a Legislative Council investigation committee into the HK$50 million payment Leung received from Australian firm UGL.

Leung added more items to the investigation, saying that it should be as comprehensive as possible.

lam cheuk ting
Lam Cheuk-ting. File photo: Lam Cheuk-ting.

The additions included questions over whether the UGL agreement was authentic, whether Leung was already elected chief executive when he signed the agreement, and whether Leung should have declared the payment to the top judge, among others.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the duties of the committee were already confirmed by the petition passed by LegCo, and that no members of the committee had asked for them to be expanded.

“It is absolutely not the case that we should expand [the scope of investigation] to accommodate any item that Leung Chun-ying wants us to investigate,” he said.

“Mr. CY Leung kept saying that as the subject of the investigation, he has the right to voice out about his opinion about the committee’s duties. However, he didn’t send any letter to the committee publicly but to approach Mr. Holden Chow to convince him to submit a document to the committee for consideration… I do think that CY Leung has already misled the general public.”

Lam also said that Leung’s proposed amendments would only “slow down the inquiry and turn the investigation to the benefit of Leung Chun-ying.”

Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. Photo: GovHK.

Leung said the document leak from the closed-door meeting on Monday should be investigated separately.

Confidentiality vs. public interest

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, the chairman of the committee, said it was disappointing that the document was leaked from the meeting. He said some lawmakers were concerned that the confidentiality rule was “completely destroyed.”

He said he understood that the public has a right to know, but it must be balanced with respect for confidentiality to allow time to handle the issues. The information would be revealed in an appropriate period of time, Tse said. He added that Leung has not approached him.

But Lam Cheuk-ting said Chow insisted that the document was written by him and lawmakers did not question it before the leak.

“Now I don’t know which of Chow’s opinions in previous meetings are his and which are in fact Leung’s,” Lam said. “He should not be in this committee anymore. Chow should not be a lawmaker either, as he has lost his integrity and credibility.”

“The chief executive was not repentant about his secret interference, but instead criticised an act that exposed injustice,” Lam added.

He said future meetings should be conducted in public and Leung should appear before the committee to explain the incident.

Members of the Democratic Party call for the ICAC to investigate. Photo: Democratic Party.

Some lawmakers have reported the incident to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, accusing Leung and Chow of misconduct in public office.

The Democratic Party’s Ted Hui Chi-fung asked the watchdog to investigate whether there were any benefits exchanged between Leung and Chow, whilst Roy Kwong Chun-yu said the incident was akin to working with a suspect to falsify statements. Claudia Mo Man-ching and Gary Fan Kwok-wai made separate complaints to the commission.

Mo and lawmakers Ray Chan Chi-chuen, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick will move a joint condemnation motion against Chow.

Kwong also wrote to the Chief Executive Office to ask whether any civil servants were involved in the editing process.

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.