Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai

Legco committee to decide if Jimmy Lai's donations to pan-democrats warrant inquiry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 3:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 3:42am

A Legislative Council committee will meet soon to decide whether to investigate allegations that several lawmakers failed to declare donations from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.

Ip Kwok-him, chairman of the Legco committee on members' interests, said last night a meeting would be held within a week.

It came a day after five Federation of Trade Unions lawmakers filed a complaint to Legco demanding an inquiry into whether five pan-democrats' alleged non-disclosure constituted conflicts of interest. That followed a leak of about 900 files to the media concerning the Apple Daily founder's political donations.

Democrat James To Kun-sun, one of the five, said: "I have never received any money from Mr Lai … I won't rule out that the attack is politically motivated."

The files gave no proof of donations to him or the Civic Party's Claudia Mo and its former lawmaker Tanya Chan, who are also said to have received funds from Lai and who also deny the claims.

The files did show that Lai gave HK$500,000 each to the Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan and League of Social Democrats' "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung last year. A cheque was also prepared jointly for the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit and Alliance for True Democracy convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek.

Last night, the alliance said Leong and Cheng held a joint account for the alliance and that neither had personally benefited.

Legco rules require lawmakers to disclose "material benefits" from a single source when the total value exceeds 5 per cent of annual pay, or one-off benefits of over HK$10,000.

A complaint against the five current lawmakers - To, Mo, Lee, Leung and Leong - was also filed at the Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday by the pro-Beijing Voice of Loving Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the government is understood to have been asking pan-democratic lawmakers whether they have home return permits, allowing them to travel to the mainland - a possible precursor to a meeting between the political camp and mainland officials for talks on electoral reform. Many local democracy activists have had their home return permits revoked.

Also yesterday, Dr Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had asked the pan-democrats to accept the government's proposal on reform even if it did not entirely satisfy their demands. Lam added that the central government would then be more willing to continue reforms in 2022, according to Kwok.