Lew brushes off smears and taunts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am


The recent election campaign was a nasty business for an energetic supporter of Leung Chung-ying. Lew Mon-hung was smeared as a triad associate, called a 'negative asset', distanced by Leung, and had his family subjected to high stress. Even so, he says he remains loyal to Leung.

'I never regretted my choice to offer unswerving support to C.Y. [Leung] - although it has affected even my family members,' said Lew, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

While not an official member of Leung's campaign team, Lew called himself a key adviser, assistant and promoter through his newspaper columns. 'Since September, I had been using my nine weekly columns to support [Leung's] ideals and policies. I lined up support from some newspapers to back him ... I do not understand why some called me a negative asset.'

Lew's difficulties began with the now notorious February 10 dinner at a restaurant in Lau Fau Shan, which he attended along with Leung's campaign office director Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun and her deputies Karen Tang Shuk-tak and Lau Ping-cheung.

In the aftermath of the dinner, he became ensnared in the complicated web of accusations, counter-accusations, admissions and suspicions related to 'black gold politics' - collusion between triads and politicians.

The meal was planned as an ordinary meeting between Leung's campaign chiefs and Heung Yee Kuk leaders. But it turned into a major controversy when Kwok Wing-hung - a businessman known as 'Shanghai Boy' and thought to have triad links - appeared at the dinner.

The media and graft-busters later wanted to know if Leung was getting support from triads, and whether Kwok had been involved in triad threats against Leung's main election rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen. Also, who paid for the meal? The Leung camp could be liable to prosecution if they treated the rural leaders to a meal and canvassed during it.

Amid the back-and-forth accusations, Lew was accused in media reports of arriving at the restaurant with Kwok and sitting next to him during the meal - which he and his driver denied - raising public suspicions that Lew was friendly with triads.

On March 8, with the controversy at its peak, Leung announced: 'Lew is not a member of our campaign office.' Lew was one of his 'many supporters of whom I cannot explain each of their words and acts'.

Looking back, Lew takes it all in stride. 'I understand his need to distance himself from me when the truth [about who organised the dinner, paid for it and invited Kwok] was not yet revealed,' he said.

That 'truth' was a confession made later by the chief of Kam Tin Rural Committee, Tang Ho-nin, who admitted the dinner had been organised by kuk members of the Election Committee.

'On voting day, March 25, [kuk voter who attended the infamous dinner] Leung Fuk-yuen apologised to me, saying they made up facts to frame me - because they supported [Henry Tang],' Lew said.

When Leung gave his victory speech, Lew was not even on the stage. 'I met C.Y. after the vote and had a telephone chat with him ... but I cannot disclose the details,' Lew said. 'Things cannot always go as we wish.'

What made him saddest about the campaign was that he became 'a target of smearing', called a 'negative asset' despite all his hard work for the campaign. 'I was targeted because I am an iconic supporter of Leung,' he said.

It is still unclear who invited Kwok to the dinner and who he sat with. But Lew seems to have moved on: 'Leung is the next chief executive. I will just support him quietly, and the city's 7 million people can see my efforts.'