A key lawmaker says a full-scale investigation into conflict-of-interest allegations against chief executive hopeful Leung Chun-ying is unlikely to cause any legal difficulties.
Members of the House Committee voted on Friday to schedule a Legco vote for Wednesday on whether to use the Power and Privilege Ordinance to force full disclosure of documents regarding the 2001 West Kowloon arts hub design contest and force key players in the scandal to testify under oath.
Leung, a judge in that competition, was accused of failing to disclose a business link between one of the bidders and his company, DTZ.
Miriam Lau Kin-yee, chairwoman of the house committee, which sets the agenda for Legco meetings, said yesterday that Legco would handle the documents carefully, dismissing concerns over commercial confidentiality which have been cited by the government as one reason for not releasing all the relevant paperwork .
'It has been fine over the years when lawmakers have handled confidential material as we are cautious in preventing such documents from being leaked,' she said.
Lau added that the investigation committee would conduct meetings behind closed doors if necessary in order to safeguard confidentiality.
On Friday, the government released 18 documents relating to the contest. They showed that Leung had voted for the design by Malaysian firm T. R. Hamzah & Yeang, said to be linked to his company DTZ, six of the seven times the judging panel was asked to vote. Judges were not told which design came from which bidder. The Home Affairs Bureau did not disclose the voting records of other judges.
Leung has denied any wrongdoing, saying the members of his company's 1,000-strong team who advised the Malaysians did not even work in the same building as him.
Lawmakers said the partial disclosure had not given the public the full picture and pushed for a full investigation.
Pan-democratic lawmakers - who account for more than 20 of Legco's 60 seats - supported the move, as did several lawmakers who support Leung's arch-rival in the March 25 chief executive poll, Henry Tang Ying-yen. The vote would require majority support from lawmakers in both the geographical and functional constituencies.
However, six legislators who nominated Tang were reportedly called into the central government's liaison office on Friday and told to stop pursuing a full-scale investigation.
The functional constituency lawmakers who met officials were Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, Abraham Razack, Philip Wong Yu-hong, Lam Tai-fai and Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun.
Lam and Razack confirmed they met the liaison office officials, but declined to reveal what was said.
'My position has been clear that Legco needs to investigate the issue, because the documents released by the government so far have led to more questions,' Razack said.
Lawmaker Professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing, who also served as a judge for the competition, said yesterday that he was against the disclosure of all the documents.
'What we want to find out is whether Leung was involved in the conflict of interest and we can ask him to testify. It's irrelevant to release all the information,' he said.
Professor Lau has yet to decide, however, whether he will support Legco's use of its special investigative powers when the matter comes to a vote on Wednesday. He also urged the central government not to interfere in the chief executive election.