The District Court was told Monday that pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung’s failure to declare HK$250,000 worth of donations has affected public confidence in his ability to perform his duties as a lawmaker.
Leung, 60, was charged last June with misconduct in public office for accepting the amounts from Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying through Lai’s assistant Mark Simon on May 22, 2012 when he was a lawmaker.
He denied the charge on Monday. Though he said outside court that he is prepared to lose the lawsuit given the “current situation in Hong Kong,” Ming Pao reported.
The court heard that Leung failed to declare his interest during a legislative meeting and 12 closed-door meetings with the LegCo Committee on Members’ Interests.
The prosecution said the HK$250,000 payment – handed to Leung – was deposited into the account of his legislative office and was never transferred to Leung’s political party, the League of Social Democrats.
The prosecution argued that by wilfully and intentionally failing to declare the donation, Leung deprived the public of its right to know the potential and actual interest, or any perceived conflict of interest, arising from the payment, according to RTHK.
It said the incident severely undermined public confidence in Leung’s ability to perform his duties as a lawmaker.
Last month, Senior Counsel Martin Lee, representing Leung, said the declaration of interest is an internal affair of the legislature. He said the court should not interfere based on the principle of the separation of powers.
Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang held that the court has jurisdiction over the criminal charge.
The trial, beginning Monday, is expected to last 10 days.
In December last year, the legislature’s Committee on Members’ Interests received complaints that Leung and former Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan had failed to declare separate donations from Lai.
It ruled that the complaint was unsubstantiated, on the basis that the pair accepted the sums on behalf of their political parties, rather than as lawmakers.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption pressed charges against Leung after the committee dismissed the complaint. No action was taken against Lee.