Student union ads take aim at Leung
The University of Hong Kong's student union took an unusual and expensive step into the chief executive election campaign yesterday.
It placed advertisements in eight newspapers questioning candidate Leung Chun-ying's involvement in what it calls 'black gold politics'.
Newspaper insiders say the union would have spent at least HK$300,000 on the full-page advertisements, which urge Leung to clarify what happened at the now notorious February 10 dinner attended by members of his campaign staff.
Also at the dinner was controversial businessman Kwok Wing-hung - known as 'Shanghai Boy' - who is allegedly linked to a complaint to police by rival candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen.
'Does it mean 'black gold politics' is the tactic deployed by the Leung camp in the election campaign and in governing Hong Kong if elected?' the union asked in its advertisement.
The term 'black gold politics' refers to collusion between triad societies and politicians.
A former union president said the union had never placed a newspaper advertisement on any issue in her time, while a political scientist said student unions normally did not take sides in local elections.
Union president Dan Chan Koon-hong refused yesterday to disclose the cost of placing the adverts.
'We went through all the official procedures, obtaining approval from our committees, before this was passed,' he said. The current affairs committee, made up of 16 student representatives, approved the advert on Saturday. The finance committee then approved the expenditure.
'This [the dinner incident] is very serious, and ... it's getting very confusing,' Chan said. 'I think it's time someone steps up and gives a clearer and more truthful account of what actually happened.'
He said this was more serious than the secret basement at a home owned by Tang's wife and Leung's alleged conflict of interest in his role as a judge in the 2001 West Kowloon arts hub design contest.
Chan said the money for the adverts came from the union's HK$10 million in reserves and not the HK$1,800,000 it receives in student fees each year. The union had not received and would not receive any outside funding to place the adverts.
The full-page advertisements were placed in Ming Pao, the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Apple Daily, Sing Tao Daily and the free papers Metro Daily, AM730, Headline Daily and Sharp Daily.
Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the union's move was unusual.
'The HKU student union stated its position on local elections, a move departing from the normal practice student unions have adopted in the past three decades,' he said.
Gloria Chang Wan-ki, who was president of the student union in 2000, questioned whether paying for the advertisements was a proper use of the union's money.