Leung Chun-ying

Ex-ally Lew's interview triggers new graft case against Leung

Graft-busters open case after lawmaker files complaint following allegations by chief executive's former ally Lew Mon-hung

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 4:32am

Leung Chun-ying will face a fresh graft investigation over the chief executive election last year, after his former ally Lew Mon-hung turned from friend to foe in an interview last week.

The development came as a new poll result showed Leung's popularity rating hit a new low after his policy address.

Neo-Democrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, who filed a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Saturday, confirmed last night that a case had been opened and he was asked to give a detailed statement in the near future.

"My complaint was based on what Lew said in the iSun Affairs magazine," he said. "I hope the ICAC can act quickly."

It is the second time Leung has been under investigation by the ICAC since he assumed office last July. The graft-buster only last month dropped a probe of a complaint alleging he gave false statements over illegal structures at his homes.

Executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, a former ICAC commissioner who headed Leung's office when he was chief executive-elect, said it was normal practice for the ICAC to open a case after receiving a complaint.

Leung said last night he had not been informed of an investigation. "Many people file complaints to the ICAC and it is normal for it to investigate the complaints," he said. "I believe the ICAC will act in a fair and just manner."

In the magazine's latest issue published on Thursday, Lew, a member of the nation's top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Leung lied over his handling of illegal structures at his Peak homes and considered pan-democrats "enemies".

Once a staunch supporter of Leung's campaign, Lew also accused the chief executive of breaking his promise to appoint him to the Executive Council, or recommend him for CPPCC Standing Committee membership, as a reward for his support during the election.

According to the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, it is a criminal offence for a person who offers an advantage to another person as an inducement to vote, or canvass votes, for a particular candidate.

It was later revealed that Lew was on bail after being arrested by the ICAC on January 8 in a separate case involving his listed company, Pearl Oriental Oil.

Media reported that Lew asked Leung in a letter to step in and stop the ICAC investigation. Lew did not confirm or deny the claim. It is understood that Lew could face an ICAC inquiry about the letter.

ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu, who would not comment on whether the agency had launched an investigation against Leung, said he "never felt any pressure from anybody".

"When there's a case that involves the chief executive, I will not report to him; I will report to the Department of Justice," Peh said. "After considering our investigation, evidence and report, [the department] would, if it thinks fit, refer the case to the Legislative Council."

Peh stressed "the chief executive will not instruct me to investigate a case, or not to investigate a case, or to make a decision".

Meanwhile, a Chinese University poll indicated that Leung's maiden policy address failed to boost his popularity rating, which plunged to a new low. In the monthly survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Leung's rating in January dropped by 2.5 points to 46.4 points - the lowest since he won the election in March last year.

More than 38 per cent of 781 respondents said they were dissatisfied with the government's performance, up 3.5 percentage points on the December figure.