The Legislative Council has passed a petition to form a select committee to look into the recent staff shake-up at the city’s anti-graft agency, after the Council rejected a motion to form such a committee under the Powers and Privileges Ordinance two weeks ago.
The committee can summon relevant people to give evidence or produce documents, but it does not have the legal coercive power which would have been provided by the Ordinance.
In July, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was hit with multiple staff resignations, after its former Head of Operations quit when her acting appointment was cancelled. She was investigating a case relating to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying according to the Democratic Party’s Lam Cheuk-ting, a former investigator at the ICAC.
The petition was raised by Lam and the Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok Wing-hang. The petition did not name Leung, but asked the LegCo to investigate whether the incident involved misconduct, an abuse of power, or illegal conduct by any person or any institutions.
Lam said the Legislative Council has a responsibility to investigate the matter.
“We insist on investigating this because the public’s concern in this matter has not been resolved – we hope to find the truth through this investigation,” Lam said. “We demand all relevant institutions and people fully cooperate with the select committee’s investigation and provide records and information.”
Should more than 20 LegCo members approve the investigation by standing up, the matter will be referred to a select committee, according to the rules of procedures. After reading out the petition, 24 pro-democracy camp lawmakers stood up and the petition was passed.
Kwok added that he has proposed two LegCo member’s private bills to reform the Independent Commission Against Corruption Ordinance and the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
“So that the Chief Executive cannot intervene in the operations of the ICAC, and that the [power of the] Prevention of Bribery Ordinance will be extended to cover the Chief Executive as well,” Kwok said.
Kwok said the select committee looking into the matter will not be formed immediately as another committee of the same kind – examining Leung Chun-ying’s acceptance of over HK$50 million from Australian Corporation UGL – was formed recently.
‘Sole decision of commissioner’
Australian newspaper The Age revealed two years ago that Leung Chun-ying received a payment of HK$50 million from engineering corporation UGL in exchange for agreeing to not join rival firms within two years. They signed the agreement in December 2011, when Leung was running for Hong Kong’s top job.
According to Lam, sources in the agency told him that it was investigating the payment, but the Chief Executive’s Office has refused for a year to provide the information requested. The ICAC is responsible to the chief executive.
Resignations ensued at the agency after the appointment of Rebecca Li Bo-lan – the ICAC’s Head of Operations – was cancelled. According to Lam, Li was investigating the case.
Simon Peh Yun-lu, the ICAC Commissioner, said that he alone made the decision and it was based on Li’s work performance.
Leung previously stated that the payment was a normal post-service agreement, and that there was no need to declare it to the Executive Council. He also denied he was involved in the decision to cancel Li’s acting appointment