Legco presidential candidate Andrew Leung grilled over British nationality before Wednesday’s election
Candidates face questions from colleagues over eligibility, commercial interests and filibustering
The man poised to become the new Legislative Council president is under pressure to produce evidence that he has renounced his British nationality to meet the requirements for the position.
While being grilled by his colleagues in a forum for Legco presidential candidates yesterday – before today’s election – Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen provided a vague answer to demands for the documented proof.
“I hear you,” the pro-establishment lawmaker said, replying to a request for proof by Civic Passion’s Cheng Chung-tai. “I’ll consider how to deal with it.”
Last night, the Legco secretariat informed lawmakers that Leung would place a copy of his “nationality confirmation document” in the antechamber for them to inspect, but they could not take photos or remove the document.
Leung’s British nationality, which he said he acquired in the 1980s, was one of many issues raised by the pan-democratic camp in opposing his bid for the presidency. The Basic Law requires the Legco president to be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country.
Leung previously told the media he had renounced his British nationality after he was returned uncontested to Legco as the industrial-sector lawmaker last month. However he stopped short of providing details.
Subsequently, a local resident filed a judicial review challenging the legality of Leung’s position as acting Legco president during the last term – a duty he was charged with as chairman of the House Committee.
During a fiery exchange in yesterday’s forum, activist-turnedlawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick accused Leung of “concealing” his nationality from the public, saying he was not qualified to have chaired Legco meetings even as acting president during the last term. Leung denied it.
Chu said he had written to the UK Home Office enquiring whether the country had confirmed Leung’s renouncement of his British nationality, and was waiting for a reply.
“We need to take this seriously,” Chu said. “If Leung cannot show any proof, he’s not qualified to be president.”
Leung and the pan-democrat candidate for the Legco presidency, James To Kun-sun, fielded questions over their commercial interests and how they would deal with filibustering.
Leung refused to provide details of his registered commercial interests, saying he would deal with it after he was elected. He holds shares in 11 companies – two of them are offshore – and is a director of 18 firms.
On filibustering, he said he would follow convention and refrain from casting the president’s vote “unless in case of a major matter”.
He said he did not think a national security bill, which some fear could be tabled in the next administration, would be “major” enough to require his backing. He also refused to commit to a pledge to resign from the presidency before voting.
Localist Yau Wai-ching, who raised eyebrows last week when she said Hongkongers lacked living space for sex, caused a stir when she asked which Legco rule would ban the use of sexual language in the chamber.
Leung replied: “language acceptable to the general public should be used, just like how the [communications] authority restricts the use of a lot of words by TV stations”.
On speeches relating to Hong Kong independence, Leung said he would take reference from precedent and consult the secretariat for legal advice before deciding how to deal with them.