Ming Pao Daily
12th August 2013
Leung Backs His Fromer Carbinet Members Who Stepped Down Because of Scandals
Leung Demands Complainants to Apologise – Legal Expert: This is Absurd! Chan Kam-lam: Some Abuses ICAC’s Corruption Reporting System
CY Leung said that the political party owed an apology to Franklin Lam and Barry Cheung as after reporting corruption cases against them the ICAC has found insufficient evidence to conduct investigation. He emphasised that the ICAC should not be exploited and be used as a political tool to suppress others. However, Leung did not mention the case when political party reported Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Development, who was suspected to have accumulated land prior to major development plan.
Johannes Chan Man-mun, Dean of the Faculty of Law for the University of Hong Kong, said Leung’s “comment on the need to apologise” violates the legal system in Hong Kong. Professor Chan said that the ICAC has the burden of proof. Even if the ICAC could not find sufficient evidence against an individual, this doesn’t mean the individual is innocent nor the informer has not reasonable doubt against their actions. Chan said that Leung was basically trying to obscure the fact and suggested that “ICAC did not persue investigation” is the same as “informer defame others”. Chan said that if Leung wants to prove the political party defame his cabinet members, he has the burden of proof.
Stephen Char Shik-ngor, barrister and former ICAC Chief Investigator, said Leung’s comment was “utterly ridiculous”. Char said that the ICAC always encourages citizens to report corruption cases, and it is the ICAC’s responsibilities to gather evidence but not the citizens’. According to ICAC’s annual report in 2012, it received a total of 6,345 reports of suspected corruption, but only 245 people were prosecuted. Char questioned, “should over thousand of the informants and complainants apologise to those they filed cases about?” He also pointed out that the ICAC has the right to prosecute complainants who file a false report, and criticised what Leung said was to stop citizens of Hong Kong from reporting suspected crimes against government officials.
Joseph Lee Kok-long, a committee member of the ICAC’s Operations Review Committee and lawmaker from the Health Services functional constituency, said that Hong Kong is still a society of rule of law but not rule by law, and wishes Leung to study the ICAC Ordinance, which states clearly that it is the duty of the ICAC Commissioner, on behalf of the Chief Executive, to receive and consider complaints alleging corrupt practices, and investigate any alleged or suspected offence under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap 201). If CY Leung wishes to amend the ordinance, he could simply take it to the Legislature and see what will happen!” Lee also said that each ICAC case will be submitted to the Department of Justic and Operations Review Committee. There is, according to Lee, a well-in-place monitoring system to prevent ICAC from becoming a political tool.
Former ICAC investor Lam Cheuk-ting (Democratic Party), who reported the Franklin Lam and Barry Cheung cases to the ICAC, said Leung demanding complainants to apologise is ridiculous and criticised Leung is trying to put pressure on ICAC not to investigate reports involving government officials. Avery Ng Man-yuen, Chairman of League of Social Democrats, asked Leung if the government will apologise to the LSD members who have been politically prosecuted but found not guilty by court.
Chan Kam-lam from Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) said that sometimes ICAC is being used to attack political oppositions at the moment which causes the waste of public funding. He also said that the media immediately judged the political figures before their were trialed, which is unfair. Those who reported politically related cases should apologise.
Leung also criticised Apple Daily for being “anti-intellectual”, without naming the paper, for the headline “Franklin Lam Resigns, Another Leung’s Cabinet Down” printed on 2nd August. Cheung Kim-hung, Editor in Chief of Apple Daily, did not comment on the incident. Sham Yee-lan, chairlady of The Hong Kong Journalists Association, said that Leung has all the rights to make criticism, but whether his criticism is based on fact will be judged by the people of Hong Kong. She thinks that as long as media practitioners only report based on facts, criticism made by the people in power will not create any pressure for them.