Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng is set to appear at the Legislative Council on January 28 after increasing calls for her to explain her department’s prosecution policy.

Lawmaker Priscilla Leung, who chairs the legislature’s Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services, said on Friday that Cheng had promised to attend the panel’s January meeting. The question-and-answer session with Cheng is expected to last an hour.

Teresa Cheng
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng.

Cheng has faced criticism after the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced its decision to drop its case against former chief executive Leung Chun-ying last month, citing insufficient evidence. Leung was under investigation for corruption and misconduct in public office after receiving payments from a foreign firm during his time as Hong Kong’s leader. He denies wrongdoing.

Cheng had previously said she would not explain her department’s prosecutorial decision. She also defended the DoJ’s move not to seek independent legal advice, saying that the option would only be used if the case involved DoJ members.

The DoJ’s move had been slammed by the Bar Association, the Progressive Lawyer’s Group, a former top prosecutor and the chair of the advisory committee at Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency.

No specific details

On Friday, Priscilla Leung said that the meeting will focus on discussing prosecution policy in general and not give details of specific cases.

Priscilla Leung
Priscilla Leung. Photo: LegCo.

One of the issues will be when and how the DoJ should seek outside legal advice, she added.

Leung said it was standard policy for the panel’s meetings to refrain from discussing specific cases, otherwise it may affect ongoing court proceedings.

Cheng had been accused of dodging questions as she took a vacation that coincided with the timing of the announcement.

Upon her return to Hong Kong on December 27, Cheng told reporters that the DoJ’s decision had no political considerations.

“In any piece of work that the Department has done, we have been unbiased and fearless,” she said. “Regardless of whether the person is a top official, a central government official, a tycoon, or just a common resident, they will receive legal protection.”

cy Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. File photo: European Business Summit, via Flickr.

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying received HK$50million from Australian engineering firm UGL after he became chief executive. The money was part of a takeover deal with insolvent property company DTZ, which included a non-compete arrangement to prevent Leung from joining a rival firm within two years.

Leung had since become a vice-chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – a position granted to him before he left office in 2017.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.