Is Leung fit to lead? That's the only question really answered by Legco grilling

Albert Cheng wonders how the people of Hong Kong can believe anything the chief executive says, now that his integrity lies in tatters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 1:58am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had previously denied any wrongdoing over claims about illegal structures at his homes. But in the end, he still had to admit that it was his fault.

It seems clear that Leung was forced to attend the question-and-answer session in the Legislative Council on Monday. He was most likely coerced by his cabinet - that is, executive councillors and top officials. He might also have been nudged by the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong.

His body language at the hearing was outwardly defensive, showing his reluctance to face the grilling by lawmakers. It was painfully obvious that his answers were scripted; he was well prepared and well rehearsed for the 90-minute session. But no matter how he answered, it all sounded the same and could be summed up with one word - negligence. He apologised numerous times and admitted his negligence again and again.

As a Chinese saying goes, "The fox will eventually show its tail", which means it will ultimately show its true colours and intentions. Leung, it seems, will continue to choose to lie instead of telling the truth. And without integrity, how can we believe anything he says from now on?

The question is, do Hong Kong people have to accept such a person as their leader? The answer is a definite no.

Hongkongers will not tolerate him any more. The central government shouldn't support a person with no integrity to lead Hong Kong. Allowing him to stay will do us no good and will only create more stumbling blocks in the implementation of government policies in the future.

At Monday's Legco session, 11 pro-establishment and 11 democratic lawmakers put many questions to Leung. All the democrats were understandably hostile and took the opportunity to grill him. Even pro-government lawmakers were aggressive and unsympathetic, with the exception of Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, Ann Chiang Lai-wan and "yes man" Chan Kin-por, who tried to defend the chief executive.

During Wednesday's debate on a motion of no confidence, sparked by the controversies, the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit summed it up perfectly by saying: "Leung has been betrayed and deserted by his followers" and "he gets what he deserves."

Meanwhile, Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun showed his true colours by abstaining from voting, saying the party had decided to give Leung a chance.

Many questions remain unanswered, issues are unresolved. First, Leung said that, following legal advice, he could not comment on the illegal structures at his home during the judicial review of his election victory. This was wrong. Then he said he never knew there were illegal structures at his home on The Peak. That's very hard to believe; as a professional surveyor, surely there's no way he failed to notice the illegal structures.

Furthermore, he tried to blame the media, saying he had invited reporters to his home on numerous occasions. If he knew there were illegal structures, he wouldn't have done so. He also said even the reporters had failed to notice these structures.

Another suspicious point was that he sealed an unauthorised storage space with a wall in November last year, the same month he declared his candidacy.

It was most ridiculous to see Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po make excuses for Leung by telling Legco that the construction of that wall didn't need permission from the Buildings Department. If the wall didn't need a permit, what about the unauthorised storage space behind it?

That explains why Leung has been so protective towards Chan despite all the scandal surrounding him.

Some questions that still need to be answered include: who are the professionals Leung hired to look into the illegal structures case and what are their conclusions? Do they really exist?

What role did Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Director of Buildings Au Choi-kai play in the whole controversy? They battered Henry Tang Ying-yen, Leung's election rival, when he was found to have illegal structures at his Kowloon Tong mansion. So, why would they spare their boss when illegal construction work was discovered at his home?

Also, when Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, who headed the office of the chief executive-elect, accompanied buildings inspectors to Leung's home to assess the illegal structures, what role did she play at that point? Did she exert pressure on the inspectors to influence the outcome?

Hongkongers have lost patience with Leung and his governing team, and don't trust them any more. This mistrust has even extended to the executive branch of government. If Leung is not fit to govern, he should step down.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.