Hong Kong lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung must come clean on claim he was offered bribe
The government's attempts to win support for political reforms that fall short of his demands seem to bring out the worst in radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung. Five years ago, fellow pan-democrats turned on him over an infamously tasteless barb he directed at the late, respected democracy campaigner Szeto Wah. Leung attributed terminally ill Szeto's support for the then administration's reform package to the spread of cancer to his brain. Now he has stepped just as far outside acceptable boundaries of political debate with his fabricated claim that he was offered HK$100 million to vote for the electoral reform bill to be put to the legislature this week.
Leung later told the Sunday Morning Post that he had "made up" the HK$100 million figure - "so many people have asked me if I really took the money and I need to protect my reputation". But he remains defiant, claiming he was approached by a "middleman" offering cash to support the reform package, although he could not back up his claims.
It may all sound too ridiculous to be true but is nonetheless a serious matter. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has rightly called on the lawmaker to clarify his story and the fabrication, since buying votes is illegal. If the part that he stands by is indeed true it should be reported to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which yesterday said it was launching its own investigation. Failing that, he cannot complain if others question his integrity, given his insistence that he met a middleman some time in February but did not report the matter to the ICAC because he did not know the man or who he represented and did not make a recording.
The situation in which Long Hair finds himself, if he is to claim any credibility, is quite simple. It is not about him, but whether there is a conspiracy to buy votes. If so, even if he does not know the middleman, it is a grave matter and he must go to the ICAC. If he lied he needs to come clean and take responsibility. Unless he clarifies the situation not only is his own reputation at stake but the credibility of other democrats could be affected.