By Dennis Kwok –
CY Leung’s term of office as Chief Executive is ending in less than two months, yet he has managed to cause even more controversies by conspiring with Holden Chow Ho-ding to interfere with the proceedings of the LegCo Select Committee appointed to inquire into the controversial UGL agreement. Holden Chow, through his stupidity and underhanded conduct, has allowed the scandal to come to light. If Holden Chow had not been so indolent to create a new document to include alterations made by Leung, nobody would have known that one of our legislators, who happened to be the Deputy Chairman of the Select Committee, has already become a puppet of the Chief Executive.
Despite Holden Chow’s apology for lacking “political sensitivity” in handling the incident, he maintained that he didn’t conceal anything. Yet, his assertions are utterly implausible when all evidence presented, including the mark-up comments made by ‘CEO- CE’ on the leaked document, points to the fact that it is indeed CY Leung himself who secretly made the modifications with the intent of steering the investigation process in his favor.
Chow’s conduct was totally unacceptable: not only did he make false representations in relation to the origin of his amendments, he has also failed to meet the public expectation that he will dutifully perform his tasks in his capacity as a independent member of the Select Committee and LegCo. Being the Deputy Chairman of the Select Committee, it goes without saying that Chow plays an important role in conducting the investigation and ensuring that it is done so fairly and justly to account to the public.
Disappointingly, Chow has on the contrary assisted CY Leung, the subject of inquiry, to directly make amendments on proposed major areas of study of the Select Committee without going through the proper procedures. Whether the purpose is to mislead the Select Committee or to make the inquiry “fairer” as they claimed, nothing can justify such interference to the Select Committee while the investigation is still underway. As we all know, the credibility of the Select Committee is premised on its independence in public perception. Any acts undermining its independence will inevitably lead to the loss of integrity of the Select Committee and LegCo.
The Legislative Council, as stipulated in Article 74 of the Basic Law, serves an indispensable role in inquiring, debating, legislating and monitoring the executive branch. Through placing checks and balances on the executive branch, the LegCo is the embodiment of the cardinal spirit of separation of powers. It is outrageous that a member of the supposedly independent LegCo would secretly cooperate with the subject of inquiry, allowing the latter to secretly modify, influence or even mislead the direction of the Select Committee investigation.
Such is a serious offence tantamount to the long established common law offence, contempt of parliament. In fact, such an offence is not uncommon in other common law jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. As Erskine May writes in Parliamentary Practice, authority on British parliamentary procedure, contempt of parliament is defined as “any act or omission which obstructs or impedes House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results.”
Chow’s conduct clearly amounted to obstructing and perverting the course of a public inquiry carried out by the Select Committee which was appointed for in-depth consideration of matters referred by the Council, hence constituting contempt of the LegCo. Such outrageous behavior of a member of LegCo to engage in underhanded dealings with the subject of inquiry of a LegCo investigation cannot be tolerated, and we, the pan-democrats would not hesitate to fulfill our obligation to censor Holden Chow for his contempt of LegCo with the power granted under Article 79(7) of the Basic Law.
Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong, delivered a well-known speech expressing his worries towards the future of Hong Kong in his last Policy Address: “[m]y anxiety is not that this community’s autonomy would be usurped by Peking, but that it could be given away bit by bit by some people in Hong Kong.” His warning is not only applicable to the autonomy of the city under “One Country, Two Systems”, but also to all of our core values in Hong Kong. Procedural justice, due process, independence of LegCo and separation of powers are the cornerstones of our society.
We cannot allow a member of the LegCo to erode the impartiality and credibility of the Council which Hong Kong had worked so hard to build up. As a lawmaker representing legal profession in LegCo, I promised to stand for and defend these values. We will fight to safeguard the values we believe in and to continue to uphold them for Hong Kong.
Dennis Kwok is a Legislative Council member representing the legal functional constituency. This is the full text of his Letter to Hong Kong broadcast on RTHK 3 on May 28.
Photo: CitizenNews picture