Legco closes down inquiry into misconduct allegations against CY Leung, for want of first-hand information
Hong Kong’s legislature decided on Thursday to wrap up its inquiry into the misconduct allegations against former leader Leung Chun-ying, after admitting it had not been able to get any first-hand information over the past 25 months.
The decision came after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced in December that its four-year investigation into Leung had ended with the Justice Department concluding that there was not enough evidence to press charges against the former chief executive.
The Legislative Council set up a select committee in November 2016 to look into Leung’s receipt of part of the HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) payment from Australian firm UGL during his time in office.
The payment, which was not declared to the Executive Council, was made under a deal with UGL stipulating that Leung could not form or join a rival firm. UGL had bought DTZ, an insolvent property company of which Leung was a director before becoming chief executive.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting, the select committee chairman Paul Tse Wai-chun said the committee needed to end the inquiry and proceed to the next stage of drawing conclusions from its findings.
“The biggest difficulty was that we did not get any help from relevant individuals,” Tse said, adding that the committee’s requests for documents and statements were unanswered.
“We do not have any first-hand evidence,” Tse admitted.
Tse said motions to summon Leung and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah had been voted down by the committee, which comprised seven pro-government lawmakers and four pan-democrats.
A source on the committee said pro-Beijing lawmakers Wong Kwok-kin and Junius Ho Kwan-yiu had suggested shutting down the committee right away, but Tse said this went against the original plan to submit a report to Legco’s house committee on the inquiry by the third quarter of this year.
If committee members were not satisfied with the report, Tse said they may draft their own minority report.
Important witnesses, especially CY Leung, had broken their promises and refused to attend our hearings
Lam Cheuk-ting, Democratic Party lawmaker
The four pan-democrats on the select committee said that from the beginning they had not had high hopes that the inquiry would make an impact.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said: “The effectiveness of the probe is of course limited.
“Important witnesses, especially CY Leung, had broken their promises and refused to attend our hearings.”
The select committee was not formed under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance and hence did not have the statutory power to summon witnesses to its hearings.
Soon after the formation of the select committee in November 2016, then-deputy chairman Holden Chow Ho-ding was exposed as having submitted documents to the meeting amended by Leung.
Chow later resigned from the committee and another pro-establishment camp lawmaker joined.
While Chow also faced investigation by the ICAC for alleged misconduct, the justice department said the act of submitting the amended document would not affect the proper functioning of the committee.
The justice department’s handling of the UGL case had raised questions as to why it did not seek external advice, given the sensitivity of Leung’s position.
Speaking at Legco on Thursday morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she cannot interfere with Teresa Cheng’s prosecutorial decisions.
“I understand there may be some issues over perception … but perception cannot override the rule of law,” Lam said, adding that Cheng will attend a Legco panel meeting on January 28.