Pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow has asked to be removed from a legislative committee tasked with investigating Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying over a controversial payment he received from Australian firm UGL.

He said Friday that he had submitted the request to the committee chair Paul Tse.

Holden Chow Ho-ding
Holden Chow Ho-ding. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

The request came five days after Chow was embroiled in a scandal whereby he was found to have allowed Leung Chun-ying to edit his document, altering the scope of the legislative investigation into the HK$50 million UGL payment Leung received.

“During my work on the investigative committee, I did not cover up anything, nor did I do anything in breach of rules or the law. It has always been my intention to ensure that the probe will be as complete and fair as possible,” he said.

He added that he wished to defuse the controversy as soon as possible.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said that – despite Chow’s resignation – it must be investigated as to whether Chow had committed misconduct, and whether the chief executive had meddled in legislative affairs.

Week of turmoil 

Since the scandal came to light on Monday, Chow and his party – the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) – had stood firm against calls for his resignation.

LegCo select committee
Some of Leung Chun-ying’s edits in the document. Photo: HKFP.

Chow subsequently apologised for the way he handled the matter, citing a lack of political sensitivity.

He said he did not attempt to cover up anything, since he did not conceal changes that Leung’s office made to his document.

Meanwhile, Leung admitted having approached Chow to modify the area of investigation in the matter, though he criticised lawmakers for breaking rules to expose the incident to the public.

However, the pro-government camp has been divided over the controversy. Pro-Beijing Wong Kwok-kin proposed disbanding the committee instead of having Chow resign from it, citing a lack of trust between his camp and the democrats in the light of the document leak.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip disagreed with Wong, saying that disbanding the committee would disrupt the progress of the investigation. She speculated that the DAB party was reluctant to let Chow resign out of fear that any resignation would be perceived as an admission of wrongdoing.

Ip Lau Suk yee
Regina Ip. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Chow’s party colleague Ann Chiang said that he was a person with “high integrity,” while DAB leader Starry Lee denied knowledge that Chow had contact with the chief executive over the probe.

Other public figures have also weighed in on the controversy. Former secretary for the civil service Joseph Wong Wing-ping slammed Chow for being “shameless” when he attributed his mistake to a lack of political sensitivity.

The pro-democracy camp has yet to reach a consensus as to whether it will demand Leung be impeached.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.