'Long Hair' defiant as Democrats push for apology to Szeto Wah

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 June, 2010, 12:00am

Democratic Party members and their allies rounded on legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung yesterday after he refused to apologise for using veteran Szeto Wah's illness to insult him.

But instead of taking the chance to apologise, Leung hit back at the Democrats saying they were using his comments to deflect criticism of the Democrats' support of the reform package. He reminded them that Szeto himself had never held back from making hurtful remarks.

Szeto said later that he did not need an apology. 'If he doesn't know he is wrong, why require him to apologise?' He said that even if Leung apologised, he would not accept it.

The row follows remarks Leung made on Monday about Szeto, who is fighting late-stage lung cancer. Commenting on Szeto's support for the electoral reform proposal, Leung attributed it to his 'cancer cells spreading to his brain'.

Although the Legislative Council session of the past two days was supposed to discuss the political reform package, much of the debate, as well as the discussions behind the scenes, has been focused on Leung's insults, with pan-democrats urging him to apologise.

Leung said yesterday he felt he should respond and hoped to put an end to the discussions. He began by stressing that he never wished Szeto any harm and - because he never intended any harm - there was no need to apologise.

Instead, Leung suggested that it was Szeto and his allies who had been smearing him behind his back. He said they had spared no effort to thwart the 'de facto referendum' movement he had hoped to initiate through the May 16 by-election.

'Thank you for stabbing me in the back,' said Leung. 'Friendly fire can still kill. Unfriendly fire is better because I know you want to kill me, and I can try and dodge it.' After the debate, Leung reminded the media that Szeto had also called former lawmaker Lau Chin-shek a 'Judas' when Lau suggested a more moderate stance towards Beijing.

'Mr Lau is Christian, and this is the worst insult that can be made ... But I don't want an apology, and Mr Lau never called for an apology.'

Despite Leung's attempt to put an end to the row, the Democratic Party's Fred Li Wah-ming said he had lost patience with Leung and his League of Social Democrat colleagues.

'To use a person's illness to make a political point is unacceptable. I swallowed all these insults [against him and the party] ... but now with Uncle Wah, I can't swallow it any longer,' he said. 'No more personal attacks, no more insults.'