The court challenge against the chief executive’s election victory ratcheted down another notch on Monday when Leung Chun-ying dropped his bid to appeal against a court ruling favouring his former election opponent, Albert Ho Chun-yan.
Leung dropped his appeal against the High Court ruling of September 12, which found the court did have the authority in principle to extend a legal deadline, allowing Ho’s challenge to continue.
Leung’s move came after another High Court ruling on Friday handed Ho a setback. Mr Justice Johnson Lam Mon-hon ruled that while the court had the power to extend the deadline, Ho’s case had too little merit to justify the extension.
Ho’s petition is based on the claim that Leung was not duly elected because he made false statements during the election campaign, implying he had no illegal structures at his home.
Three months after the election when the illegal structures at Leung’s home on The Peak were revealed, Ho filed his petition. But according to the law, petitions related to the election must be filed within seven working days after election results are released.
In court on Monday, Ho said he would continue to appeal against the constitutionality of the seven-day deadline for filing election petitions.
The seven-day law should be struck down as unconstitutional and the legislature should decide on a new time limit, instead of leaving the matter to the court’s discretion, he said.
Central to the petition is whether Leung made a false statement when he attacked election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen during a televised debate over illegal structures at Tang’s Kowloon Tong home.
Ho claims that by criticising Tang, Leung implied he himself had made no unauthorised alterations to his own house.
The court, however, described it as a “quantum leap” to take Leung’s attack against Tang as a statement about properties that Leung himself owned. Ho finished third in the election behind Leung and Tang.
On Monday lawyers for the government said they, too, would withdraw their application to appeal against the September 12 ruling by the High Court.