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Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying, also known as CY Leung, is the chief executive of Hong Kong. He was born in 1954 and assumed office on July 1, 2012. During the controversial 2012 chief executive election, underdog Leung unexpectedly beat Henry Tang, the early favourite to win, after Tang was discredited in a scandal over an illegal structure at his home.

NewsHong Kong

Chief Executive CY Leung demands retraction of 'defamatory' article

Chief executive's lawyers call on HK newspaper to withdraw 'defamatory' article, but he sparks new storm over free speech and rights of press

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 7:39am


  • Yes: 19%
  • No: 81%
8 Feb 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 255

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has demanded the retraction of a newspaper article which he claims accuses him of having links with triads.

His lawyers sent a letter to the chief editor of the Hong Kong Economic Journal last Friday.

The letter claimed a commentary piece published on January 29 and written by Joseph Lian Yi-zheng, a former member of the Central Policy Unit think tank, was defamatory.

The newspaper printed an apology on Thursday, but chief editor Chan King-cheung later insisted this was addressed to readers, not Leung, and said there would be no retraction.

Leung said he accepted the newspaper's apology. But he made no move to withdraw his lawyers' letter, despite calls from journalists, human rights activists and pan-democratic lawmakers who feared his action could undermine free speech.

Leung said in a statement: "I have all along respected freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Nevertheless, the article contains serious allegations which accused me of having relations with triad society. The matter has to be taken seriously."

I have all along respected freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Nevertheless, the article contains serious allegations which accused me of having relations with triad society. The matter has to be taken seriously

Referring to the newspaper's apology, he added: "I am aware of and accept the last paragraph of the notice issued by HKEJ today."

The paragraph reads: "The management and editorial department of our newspaper, as well as the author of the [relevant] article, did not allege Mr Leung had had relations with triads. We apologise if the article prompted some readers to make unfair conclusions about Mr Leung and had caused any inconvenience."

In the article, Lian said his claims were derived in part from comments made by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Lew Mon-hung's in iSun Affairs magazine.

Lew accused Leung of lying about the handling of the illegal structures row at his Peak homes.

But Lian also said in the article that people should cross-check the facts since Lew may have lied.

The Chief Executive's Office said it had nothing to add when asked if Leung would withdraw the lawyers' letter or take further legal action.

Chan said the letter asked them to retract the article and not to make such remarks again. It did not say if Leung might take further action should the paper ignore the requests.

Both Chan and Lian were surprised by Leung's actions.

Chan said: "I am very shocked and disappointed … Hong Kong has long cherished free speech. His action was very negative and set a bad precedent."

Chan reiterated that the newspaper's apology was to readers, not Leung. He added: "As to how he interprets it, it is out of our control. We will not withdraw the article."

Lian said: "It seems [Leung's] move was not very rational."

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit called Leung's actions "politically unwise" and urged him to withdraw the letter.

And the chairman of the Hong Kong News Executives Association, Ronald Chiu Ying-chun, said "there would be political consequences" if leaders took legal action to silence attacks.



I have all along respected freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Nevertheless, the article contains serious allegations which accused me of having relations with triad society. The matter has to be taken seriously.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying

The management and editorial department of our newspaper, as well as the author of the [relevant] article did not allege Mr Leung had had relations with triads. We apologise if the article prompted some readers to make unfair conclusions about Mr Leung and had caused any inconvenience.

Statement issued by editorial department of the Hong Kong Economic Journal



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This article is now closed to comments

The Hong Kong Economic Journal has apologized to the CE and the readers on 7 Feb. 2013.
I refer to another article published by SCMP - "Leung unlikely to win, say experts
Academic says Leung could sue Lew Mon-hung and not the Economic Journal, while journalists want him to withdraw his letter". I was so enlightened by the experts comments on this article. Still one episode came into my mind - the recent case of the BBC Broadcasting unverified information which resulted in the resignation of the Governor General of the BBC. Surely the editor in chief of newspaper has some responsibility in this matter.
I concur with Faderosa.
HKEJ is owned by the Li family, whose property businesses (Whampoa, Cheung Kong) are under direct threat from Leung's policies to contain property prices.
That gives the Li family a motive to undermine the CE.
Of course that is just speculation. As an astute businessman, Richard Li may have chosen not to exercise editorial influence over his paper, which I hope is the case.
Sadly, Leung's attempt to gag the HKEJ has caused him to emerge as the bad guy out of this sorry affair. Bad PR is costing his credibility dearly.
You really have to ask yourself if articles like the one published by HKEJ are simply politically driven. I support this CE ideas, somebody is finally challenging the bad habits
I am in agreement with ByeBye and comments from other readers showed a lack of understanding of what "libel" refers to.
As a professional journalist, he /she must be subjected to higher scrutiny in terms of the statements they make, since the messages may have a widespread effect. As such, for a journalist (and even public figures) to make a statement, he/she should be obliged to provide supporting evidence when being challenged. The law must enforce such strict requirements to ensure that society can be rid of such undesirable characters such as those who are loudmouth and do not maintain good peresonal hygiene.
The first I heard of this was now that CY is trying to fight it. I really don't think that our CE is a bad guy but he is atrocious when it comes to public relations. This latest little spat just illustrates how desperately the Government needs some new blood and not just sycopants who don't seem to be or are unwilling to properly advise the CE on how to handle such matters. The advice for this type of non-article, non-accusation should simply have been to ignore it. Everyone else had.
I am not looking forward to the Dem. (Demonizing) Party's new banners in LEGCO in the new year.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must prove that libel has taken place. For example for an ordinary citizen, if it would have occurred in the United States, first, the person must prove that the statement was false. Second, the person must prove that the statement caused harm. Third, the person must prove that the statement was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. For a public official, Mr. Leung must prove the first three steps and that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth. For example the public officials could only win a suit for libel when they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the media outlet in question knew the information was wholly and patently false or that it was published with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not as the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect freedom of the press or the speech.
I know that Hong Kong is common law jurisdiction. If the libel in Hong Kong is a criminal libel or civil libel liability or both? However, Mr. Leung bears the burden of going forward, such as produce evidence regarding his claim, if Mr. Leung seeks for legal remedy.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 02/07/13 美國
Yes you are right;according to common law "the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges".Similarly,has Hong Kong Economical Journal concrete evidences of CE involved in triad activities?The allegation is only based on journalists reports i.e. triad members employ persons to act as CE's supporters in the 1Jan protest,which are mere words neither tested nor verified.
And about the feast in Loufoshan which CE never attended;Lew,a former supporter of CE.attended instead.Is Lew a triad member?Never verified.
If you have read this article of HKEJ,it based on unverified information and ruthlessly and solidly lays allegation which is an abuse of press freedom.
The HKEJ has apologized on 7 Feb. 2013.
Freedom of speech is not a mode to be used for defamatory of character, slandering or vengeance purpose. Like any citizen, Mr CY Leung has every right to voice his disagreement to such issues, and if need be, sue the bodies who make the defamatory allegations.
Well not knowing the veracity of the facts, if it happens that CY is not wrong then defamation is something big and quite unprofessional for journalist. Otherwise you are at the same level as UK gossips mag or our lovely apple newspaper.
Now we are in a situation where we should have doubts about the newspaper wordings.
On the other hand, look at Singapore's Leaders approach to Free Speech.
Take the press to court to substantiate the claims. Not only in Singapore, but also in many developed countries.
I can’t just ignore the coincidence of today’s news and My Take both about challenge to free speech and freedom of press by the C.Y. Leung’s demand of a retraction of a newspaper story and a local business man’s law suit of an unwanted publicity. Both must evoke or motivated by libel law for an honor tarnished. It is really light weight and too irrelevant a law for our time. But both have other legal ground to protect one’s honor; demand for evidence for the allegation or breach of confidentiality agreement and to see light of the day in court. I will totally support such a move to protect the innocent. Otherwise, a libel suit is just seen as an outdated law designed to protect the privileged and the wealthy in real old aristocratic culture. Just get rid of such a frivoling law.
Hi John,
It is not an old aristocratic culture, but originated from the Decalogue of the Bible:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
Thank you hars for the correction. I would further add to the old bible teaching that 'You shall not bear false witness against oneself' -- no lies fundamentally. I think the aristocrates must particularly fond of the bible version and instituted it into a libel law . US on the other hand has found no use of such law that stands in the way in freedom of speech and freedon of press. That is not to say Americans are bladder mouths. On the contrary, gossip news in respectable newspapers are rare and not the norm as in England and Hong Kong. There, may really need libel law. What an irony?
"US on the other hand has found no use of such law that stands in the way in freedom of speech and freedon of press." The US has laws against defamation of character, liable and slander so I am not sure your meaning.
I agree that the CE was right. "freedom of speech" is a necessity and no one is saying they are not free. But the press also has a responsibility to correctly research reports, have documentation and the ability to back up what they print. If the CE had asked for an apology you would expect the newspaper to provide to say no and give the details backing up their story. However in this case it appears it was based on nothing and they cannot say anything but 'Freedom of Speech".
The newspaper abused its rights and should be held accountable. Or else how will anyone every believe tem again.
Journalist always try to hide behind the shield of "Freedom of Speech and Press" when they made an unfounded allegation, and claim that this shield is being threatened. The pan democrats lawmakers will always jump on the bandwagon to politicize the issue. What else is new?
High time that someone has the guts to take on the irresponsible HK press. The press cannot defame and cast allegation without evidence in the name of free of speech. That is bullying, not free speech. Free speech allows both parties to respond and be heard.
Disgraceful that he throws his weight around in this manner. If he takes out a writ he knows he cannot win (for state leaders place themselves on a public pedestal to which all manner of public comment is attracted and must be permitted), it's simply a case of a wealthy individual using the courts as a tool of oppression.
Free Speech is not identical to Misleading.
We must take the responsibility of educating the public, especially the young - what is right or wrong.
Agreed! One has to be aware of the consequences of misleading statements made, and be responsible for it.
If the C.E is in the right, then his actions are rightful. I'm surprised he just doesn't go straight for a libel suit. It is within his right to do that.
If he's lying, then eventually he'll fall apart like Lance Armstrong.
I think other people are politicizing this issue. Just because someone is working in the government, doesn't mean they shouldn't have the same rights under the law. Whatever happened with his house is one thing, this is a totally different issue.


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