Graft-buster chief accuses democrat of ‘misleading public’ by urging Legco probe into CY Leung’s UGL fee

Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu and Democratic Party’s Lam Cheuk-ting are in a war of words over the issue that allegedly led to an ICAC personnel controversy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 8:44pm

Hong Kong’s graft-buster has accused a democratic lawmaker of “misleading the public” by insisting on probing the role of the city’s top official in a personnel controversy plaguing the anti-graft agency.

On Tuesday, Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao Daily published an article written by Democratic Party’s Lam Cheuk-ting, in which he explained why the Legislative Council must invoke its special power to investigate Leung Chun-ying’s receipt of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL before he became the city’s chief executive.

The probe is needed because of suspicion about whether the removal of top investigator Rebecca Li Bo-lan from her post at the Independent Commission Against Corruption earlier this year was linked to the agency’s investigation – when Li was in charge of operations – into Leung’s payment.

Carrie Lam opposes probe on CY Leung’s role in ICAC controversy, claims ignorance of UGL fee issue

ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu hit back in a 2,100-word article published in the same newspaper on Thursday.

Peh wrote that he must “make clarifications because Lam’s article deviated from facts”.

The commissioner reiterated that the removal of Li as acting head of the ICAC’s powerful investigative unit was “simply a human resources management decision”.

“My decision … was not related to any of the ICAC’s investigations at all, and I was not under any pressure to make it,” Peh wrote.

“It is very regrettable that Lam kept making misleading remarks, which damaged the commission’s credibility and Hong Kong’s international reputation.”

Peh also said that according to the city’s anti-bribery law, the commission must not admit, deny nor comment on whether it is investigating any complaint.

CY Leung insists he did not take any part in decision-making to remove ICAC’s Rebecca Li

On the sidelines of the Legco meeting on Thursday, Lam said he was not the only one eager to get to the bottom of the matter.

“Peh’s reiteration was not convincing at all, and ICAC’s officers will not accept this,” Lam said.

He added: “Otherwise several senior officers at the agency would not have quit their job after Li was removed, and more than 100 staff members at the ICAC would not have boycotted the agency’s annual dinner earlier this year.”

Legco had approved, with the support of democratic lawmakers, the setting up of two committees to examine Leung’s receipt of the UGL payment and Li’s removal from her post, respectively.

But the pro-establishment camp voted down motions to launch formal inquiries which will allow lawmakers to summon officials to attend hearings, or to require authorities to disclose specific documents to help with probes.