The son and daughter-in-law of Tam Yiu-chung, a veteran pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong, run a company in the Australian city of Perth which targets a mainland Chinese clientele seeking emigration opportunities, a local news magazine has reported.

The report raised questions over whether the politician’s family members are effectively working against Beijing as it increases restrictions on the purchase of foreign assets by its people to prevent wealth from flowing out of the country.

Tam Yiu-chung. Photo: inmediahk.net, via CC.2.0.

Tam’s son Tam Kin-wang and his wife Sharon Leong Chong-Peng operate an accounting and immigration firm called CPL Corporate in Perth, with Leong a director and her husband the sole shareholder, local pro-democracy publication Next Magazine reported Friday. The couple also own a residence in Como, a suburb of Perth.

Tam is a member of the Standing Committee of China’s legislature the National People’s Congress, a former member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and former chairman of the leading pro-Beijing political party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).

CPL stands for “China-Perth Link” and offers a range of services including auditing, accounting, company registration, financial licensing and “Chinese services,” according to an archived page of its now-removed website. “Chinese services” includes helping clients liaise with or seek Chinese clients and investors, and assisting them with “migration, legal and financial opportunities through introduction to relevant parties.”

CPL Corporate’s now-removed homepage displays Sarah Leong’s photo and a company phone number. Photo: website screenshot.

Next Magazine said a reporter confirmed the company’s line of business by making telephone enquiries while posing as a client interested in immigration to Australia. It said a woman named “Sharon” offered them the options of hiring immigration advisers originally from Hong Kong or from Malaysia.

The couple obtained Australian citizenship in 2014, according to the magazine. In August the same year, Leong went on a business tour to Sichuan, where she visited a law firm in her capacity as Baker Tilly’s China branch executive director to discuss businesses related to investment immigration to Australia.

According to an article on the event, the tour also attracted several Australian immigration specialists, including Australian immigration firm ISA Group’s then CEO Noelene Merrey, Australian immigration lawyer Yin Tan, and an investment immigration consultant Tracy Lee, who was formerly a judge in Sichuan, her LinkedIn profile showed.

Leong attended an investment immigration business tour to Sichuan in 2014. Photo: WeChat.

CPL is also the auditor of Chung Wah Association, a Chinese community organisation in Perth that claims to be the largest in Western Australia. Separately, Leong was appointed independent non-executive director by a mainland company, Kemao Industries Limited, in 2018. She became its non-executive chair after it listed on the Australian stock exchange.

Australia’s government has since 2018 required entities working on behalf of foreign governments to register their activities under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme. China for its part has in recent years tightened rules about moving capital out of the country, including restrictions on the purchase of overseas real estate by individuals.

Photo: Wikicommons.

Tam Yiu-chung has been quoted as saying that his son and daughter-in-law were “low profile members” of the DAB. Tam the elder was party chairman until 2015 and remains one of its most senior members. He has also described the pair as “patriotic and loving Hong Kong,” who share his political views.

Tam was sanctioned by the US government after 55 Hong Kong democrats were arrested by police on suspicion of violating the national security law.

Tam Kin-wang and Leong both graduated from Perth-based Curtin University. Leong previously worked at Ernst & Young and was an executive director at Pitcher Partners until 2014. She is a certified practising accountant and a registered company auditor, according to an online profile. Leong’s LinkedIn profile has been removed.

She told a Next Magazine reporter to “please call and ask my father-in-law” when asked about her relationship with the senior Tam.

Tam Yiu-chung. File Photo: LegCo.

“Just like all parents on Earth, the life and work of my son and daughter-in-law are their choice, I respect that,” said Tam Yiu-chung, in response to Next Magazine‘s investigation. “Similarly, my family support and respect the fact that I serve my country and Hong Kong by choosing to work in politics.”

Tam also described Next Media, the magazine’s parent company as biased, saying it attacks “patriots and those who love Hong Kong and now they harass my family. I feel angry about it and severely condemn this.”

Next Media, which also publishes the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, was founded by Jimmy Lai, who is in custody in Hong Kong awaiting trial on a charge of violating the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.