Corruption and cronyism will erode Hong Kong if the rule of law is not upheld, Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming warned yesterday. 'If we cannot convey the message of the rule of law, corruption and cronyism of the mainland will erode Hong Kong gradually,' he said. Mr Lee made the remarks as he moved an amendment to the traditional Motion of Thanks to the Chief Executive on his Policy Address on the first day of a two-day debate. Officials will reply next week before members vote. In his amendment, he urged members to express resent and regret over Tung Chee-hwa's failure to address livelihood issues, unemployment, economic recession and to accelerate democracy. Mr Lee sharpened attacks on alleged government controls on court and press freedom. He cited the government 'exile' of Director of Broadcasting Cheung Man-yee, head of RTHK, to Tokyo to be the Principal Hong Kong Economic and Trade Representative in mid-December. 'It was an unusual matter. Some officials defended the move, saying there were no political reasons. I think even they were not convinced.' Critics have voiced fears that the transfer will undermine RTHK's editorial independence. 'By doing this, it issued a message to the next Director of Broadcasting, senior staff of RTHK and all senior officials that they will be penalised if they do not follow the orders of the central Government,' he said. On the other hand, those who follow orders would get returns, Mr Lee added. He cited the example of Sally Aw Sian, former boss of the Hong Kong Standard, who was not prosecuted in the fraud case involving the newspaper. Party colleague Cheung Man-kwong said Hong Kong was becoming a mainland city - and RTHK the People's Radio - rather than a world city of Asia as claimed by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address. 'Hong Kong has changed in essence. The Sally Aw Sian case, the National People's Congress' reinterpretation of the Court of Final Appeal [abode ruling], the scrapping of the two municipal councils . . . Hong Kong is like a city in China,' Mr Cheung said. Both Tsang Yok-sing, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, and James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Liberal Party, opposed Mr Lee's amendment.