‘I have no regrets,’ controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung says after early release from Stanley Prison

Vocal critic of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying keeps mum on whom he will back in coming leadership race

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:39am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:20pm

Controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung was all smiles as he walked free from Stanley Prison on Monday, having secured an early release from his 18-month jail term for perverting the course of justice.

“I feel that an innocent man will be proven so without having to clear his name ... I have no regrets,” he told the media pack waiting for him at the gates of the maximum-security facility.

A clean-shaven and beaming Lew, 68, said he had lost over 15kg in prison – something he had been “dreaming of”.

His supporters dipped a branch of pomelo leaves in water and sprinkled it over his head, in keeping with a traditional Chinese ritual to drive away bad luck.

The former Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member had his sentence cut short by a third, or six months, for good behaviour.

He was put behind bars last February for trying to halt an investigation into fraud and money laundering charges that were later unanimously cleared by a High Court jury in 2015.

The District Court found that Lew had sent two letters and two emails containing threats to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Simon Peh Yun-lu, head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, following his arrest in 2013.

During sentencing he had shouted in defiance: “History will rule that I am innocent.”

His appeal against conviction will be heard in the High Court this Thursday.

Among those who wrote in support of Lew during mitigation was disgraced former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who was sentenced to 20 months in the same prison last week for misconduct in public office.

Lew turned from a firm supporter to a vocal critic of Tsang’s successor after the two had a falling out. In January 2013, he accused Leung of lying about illegal extensions at his home on The Peak and of breaking a promise to appoint Lew to the Executive Council in return for his support during the chief executive election campaign.

I was too involved in the last election ... clapped the wrong hands, burned the wrong fireworks, cast the wrong ballot and mistakenly supported old Leung.
Lew Mon-hung, businessman

Asked about his first words to the outgoing leader, Lew replied: “Not worth mentioning.”

But he quickly added: “History will be the judge.”

Lew did not comment on the likelihood of Leung being elevated to a CPPCC vice-chairman’s post, saying it had yet to be confirmed. But he asked the public to consider the example of former president Hu Jintao’s one-time top aide, Ling Jihua, who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year for taking bribes, illegally obtaining state ­secrets and abuse of power.

Lew also did not say which candidate he would support in next month’s leadership election, explaining that he no longer had the right to vote.

“I was too involved in the last election as an Election Committee member, clapped hands for the wrong person, burned the wrong fireworks, cast the wrong ballot and mistakenly supported old Leung,” he continued. “In the end, I learned a painful lesson.”

This time, Lew said, he would look to see who not only respected the “one country, two systems” principle but could also “unite Hong Kong, mend fissures and safeguard core values”.

He further expressed concern that “someone might win the votes and lose [in terms of] popular support”.