Protesters marched on Sunday to oppose the Department of Justice’s decision not to prosecute Hong Kong’s former chief executive Leung Chun-ying for corruption and misconduct in public office.
The pro-democracy camp march organisers estimated that 1,200 people joined the march, while the police put the figure at 525.
On December 12, the Department of Justice said it did not have sufficient evidence to charge Leung, saying there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction of a corruption charge.”
Leung has been criticised for receiving a non-compete and non-poach payment of HK$50 million from the Australian firm UGL in 2012 and 2013, after it acquired UK firm DTZ. Leung was DTZ’s director in 2011, before he ran for the role of chief executive. Although the payments were made during Leung’s tenure as Hong Kong’s leader, they were not disclosed until a 2014 media exposé.
Democrats have accused Leung of encouraging the acquisition deal so that he could benefit from it, and failing to declare the payment while in office. Leung has denied any wrongdoing.
‘There will be nothing left’
On Sunday, pro-democracy lawmakers and their supporters marched in the rain from Chater Garden in Central to the Secretary for Justice’s office, shouting slogans including “no independent legal advice was sought, no clear explanation was given.”
Lam Cheuk-ting, one of the Democratic Party lawmakers who launched a crowdfunding campaign to investigate Leung, said that the case represented a failure in clean governance.
“Hong Kong already has no democracy. If it loses its anti-corruption stance and its rule of law, then there will be nothing left,” he said.
Lam urged Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng to explain the decision not to prosecute Leung and to review the decision after seeking outside legal advice.
Cheng is expected to appear at the regular meeting of the legislature’s Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services in late January.
Lam said that Cheng should bring along the director of public prosecutions and representatives from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to answer lawmakers’ questions.
Democrats will move a vote of no confidence against Cheng if she fails to give a satisfactory explanation, Lam added.
Lam had previously said the Democratic Party might file a legal challenge against the DoJ’s decision if no further explanation was given. Such a move would be a rare instance whereby a prosecutorial decision faces judicial scrutiny.
Lam added that filing a court case against the prosecutors does not mean that the DoJ cannot discuss the case in detail.
In some situations, Hong Kong governmental bodies have followed a policy of not commenting on incidents that were being processed in the legal system.
“If this becomes a reason for not responding then, in the future, no matter how ridiculous a government decision is, they just need to find a pro-establishment supporter to file a legal challenge, then they can dodge all questions,” Lam said.
A DoJ spokesperson said Cheng was on leave and would return on December 27.