• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 12:02pm
Leung Chun-ying
NewsHong Kong

Thousands could face court over Leung slur

Everyone joining in campaigns to spread copies of article that infuriated chief executive could be charged if he sues, says legal expert

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 4:48am

Thousands of people who have shared the political column that Leung Chun-ying claims accuses him of having links with triads could be subject to defamatory charges if the chief executive decides to take the publisher to court, a legal expert suggested.

By yesterday evening, at least 5,767 Facebook users had shared Joseph Lian Yi-zheng's article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal as part of a campaign launched by Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee.

She asked her supporters on Facebook to share the article and invite the chief executive to sue them for defamation.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan endorsed the campaign and also distributed at least 700 copies of the article at the Lunar New Year fair in Victoria Park, asking supporters to make more copies and pass them on.

Lee, a legislator for New Territories West, said: "Press freedom is the core value of Hong Kong. Lian only expressed his views in an article; it is a very bad precedent for Leung to devise legal means to silence the dissenting voice. It will certainly have a chilling effect on press freedom and damage the core value of Hong Kong."

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, assistant law professor at the University of Hong Kong, suggested in a radio interview that if the chief executive did decide to take the matter to court, those who shared the commentary could be sued as well.

He also said that since Lian's article was only a commentary based on newspaper reports on remarks by former Leung supporter Lew Mon-hung, he "could not see any legal grounds or evidence to Leung's claim".

"Whether an article is defamatory should also be judged in its entirety, not by picking out one or two sentences [as Leung did]," Cheung added.

Among visitors to the Labour Party booth in Victoria Park, one civil engineer, who asked not to be named, said: "Free speech is a value that is highly treasured in Hong Kong. Leung needs a rethink on his move.

"If the government continues to interfere with the press, how can we get diverse and balanced views from the media?"

A Baptist University student, who also asked not to be identified, agreed, saying: "It is appalling for Leung to adopt legal means to silence the dissidents' voice. His autocratic approach only serves to give us the terrible impression that we are under the rule of the Communist Party."



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This article is now closed to comments

Give the CE a chance. Like most below I believe he is a good guy trying to help Hong Kong. People seem to be trying to make a point by attacking him. These people only care about themselves and not Hong Kong.
hi, asiaseen, your points are spot on and couldn't agree more.
News Flash Student: You do live under the Communist Party. Who do you think selected this man as your leader? The Easter Bunny? They call the shots because he reports to them and not to you. Why would you expect any reaction other than this with such a background. How dare anyone question the Communist Party's anointed representative to Hong Kong. The temerity.
I am finding increasingly difficult to understand why the likes of Audrey Eu and her fellow travellers are so stupid. Although I have not seen the original article, the Economic Journal appears to be explicitly accusing the CE of triad involvement, therefore he is entirely within his rights to demand a retraction; indeed he would be foolish not to do so. It is NOT curtailing the freedom of the press. At worst it is an attempt to rein in the shoddy journalism of the Economic Journal.
The Headlines on the article in question is definitely Misleading!
Audrey Eu is not stupid, she is very opportunistic. She just try to ensure she is not forgotten and maintain her presence after her electoral defeat.
Dai Muff
You SHOULD see the original article. Then your comments might look like you actually know what you are talking about. Mr Lian quoted Lew Mon-hung, like EVERY newspaper, including this one, not run by the Communist Party. He even went further than most in repeatedly asserting Mr Lew's claims remained unproven. The CE has not threatened to sue Mr Lew. Nor has he responded to press questions on the topic. The rest was commentary that the CE obviously did not like. And freedom of comment is a major part of freedom of press. No wonder you find it "difficult".
Since I am not a lawyer, I am not sure if it has any legal ground for CY Leung to demand retraction; of the same comment carried by the HKEJ which was sent by Facebook, albeit over 5,000 times. If he does, he would be probably mixing apples with oranges. HKEJ is a press while the Facebook is a social media. Audrey Eu a lawyer should know better. She should have done the challenge of Leung through the press; SCMP?. Or are we to elevate the Facebook with freedom of Facebook? What a terrible thought, no?
Demonstrates yet again how unfit to lead Hong Kong he is.
-he is tackling the recycling problem that the previous administration ignored.
-he is up against the property tycoons to control the rising property market.
-he is helping the old people (the ones who do all the recycling of paper and bottles for us) with allowances.
Give him a chance and let see what he can do before you and all the other small-minded people in HK condemn him.
Dai Muff
"He is tackling the recycling problem that the previous administration ignored."
Factually, these "initiatives" were under way under the previous administration, and even reported on in this paper among others. Like much of the Policy Address.
"He is up against the property tycoons to control the rising property market."
As long as nobody even mentions rent control or points out that property in mid-levels and Pokfulam is not likely to be built at a price the Hong Kong middle class can afford. We can't after all risk stopping the landlords making a packet.
"He is helping the old people (the ones who do all the recycling of paper and bottles for us) with allowances."
While insisting on a means test, which forces their families to help them out less to qualify, and resolutely refusing old age pensions as a possibility.
In the six months he has been in office we have seen no moves towards greater freedom of speech, freedom of information being declared a low priority, mainland-backed organisations trying to shut down religious freedom with impunity, a total lack of willingness to even consider rent control, and a new low level of paid pro-government protesters hanging out in porta potties.
You have got to understand why some do not welcome more of this.



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