Ousted Hong Kong legislator ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung slams ‘childish and despotic’ demand for HK$2.98 million in salary, expenses
Ex-lawmaker also questions whether city’s leader Carrie Lam pressured legislature to pursue case
Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has described the legislature’s legal bid to recover at least HK$2.98 million (US$380,000) in expenses and salaries paid to him as a “childish and despotic act of political persecution”.
Leung also questioned whether Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had pressured the legislature to pursue the case.
He added that he would ask the court, through his lawyers, to postpone the case until the Court of Appeal makes a decision on his appeal against his disqualification from the Legislative Council. The court will hear Leung’s appeal in November.
The League of Social Democrats’ 62-year-old former chairman was referring to a High Court writ filed on Friday last week by the Legislative Council Commission, the body responsible for the legislature’s administration. The action was taken after Leung ignored a compromise deal under which he was supposed to return part of the sum, citing his pending appeal to regain his Legco seat.
In the writ, the commission’s lawyers argued that Leung was “liable to make restitution to the commission” to the sum of about HK$2.98 million, after he was stripped of his Legco seat by the High Court in July last year over an improper oath of office.
The figure includes HK$1.52 million in operating expenses, about HK$857,000 in salary, about HK$373,000 in advances for office operations and other costs, and HK$234,000 in interest, which is increasing by the day.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Leung questioned why the commission had to claim the lump sum at this time.
“The commission is acting like a child … To claim my salary and the operating expenses I used to serve Hong Kong people is to use its powers in a despotic manner,” Leung said.
“I want to know if the government took the initiative … and whether it’s an order from the chief executive of Hong Kong, or it’s a decision by the president of Legco. It’s public money.”
Asked whether he felt he was under political persecution, the ex-lawmaker said: “Certainly.”
The commission consists of 13 lawmakers – the Legco president and eight other pro-establishment members, and four pan-democrats.
Earlier this month, pan-democrat lawmakers failed in their bid to launch an investigation into a scandal dogging the MTR Corporation, Hong Kong’s rail company, just as fresh allegations of shoddy construction work were revealed.
While more than half the lawmakers from elected geographical constituencies supported a motion by the Democratic Party’s Lam Cheuk-ting, those elected by business and pro-establishment interest groups shot it down.
Leung on Tuesday argued it was unreasonable for pro-establishment legislators to play down scandals plaguing the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin to Central rail link and “go after him instead”.
“Were they worried that I wouldn’t go bankrupt?” he questioned. A bankrupt person cannot be nominated or elected for public office.
Legal experts previously said Legco could ask authorities to declare him bankrupt if he failed to eventually hand over any sum finally decided on by the court.
Leung was a lawmaker for 13 years until he and five other pro-democracy legislators – Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, Yau Wai-ching, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Edward Yiu Chung-yim – were unseated following a 2016 ruling by Beijing they had taken their oaths of office improperly.
The commission took Sixtus Leung and Yau to court in October last year, demanding that they return some HK$1.86 million paid to them from public funds. The case is still in the District Court.
But for the other four, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen floated a deal in April stipulating they would not need to fully pay the sum if they agreed to return a smaller amount in prepaid operating funds or expenses, as well as items such as laptop computers.
Lau, Law and Yiu accepted the deal and paid about HK$190,000 to HK$310,000 each, but Leung Kwok-hung ignored it.