For the second time in three days, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has demanded accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung be removed from a legislative committee in charge of probing a controversial payment he received from Australian firm UGL.
“Kenneth Leung has a pre-established position and a clear stance. He is biased and prejudiced. Therefore, he is unfit to serve on the committee,” the chief executive wrote in his blog on Friday.
In response, Kenneth Leung said he would not quit the committee. He said his past statements questioning the outgoing leader’s tax burden were made based on his professional judgment as a tax consultant.
The row came amid a scandal whereby Leung Chun-ying was found to have edited a document of pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow, altering the scope of the legislative investigation into the HK$50 million UGL payment Leung received.
Critics accused Chow of colluding with the chief executive and allowing him to meddle in legislative affairs. The lawmaker resigned from the committee on Friday, though he insisted that he had done nothing in breach of rules or the law.
Meanwhile, Leung said he has the right to express his views on the matter as the subject of the probe. In response to criticism of him and Chow, Leung demanded lawmaker Kenneth Leung, who sits on the investigative committee, be barred from involvement in the probe.
The chief executive said Kenneth Leung had been targeting him since October 2014, when Leung asked the head of the Inland Revenue Department to investigate the UGL payout controversy.
In a media session in March, Leung claimed that the chief executive was still under investigation by the Inland Revenue Department and tax authorities from other countries.
In his Friday’s blog post, the chief executive rejected Leung’s claim, adding that the unfounded accusation shows that Leung is biased.
In addition, he said Leung had a direct conflict of interest in discussing the scope of the investigation, because the pair is involved in a defamation lawsuit.
The outgoing leader filed a lawsuit against Leung in March – a first for Hong Kong – alleging that the lawmaker made defamatory remarks in claiming the leader could be under investigation by Hong Kong or foreign tax authorities.
Besides targeting Leung, the chief executive also criticised lawmakers for breaking confidentiality rules by leaking the document to the public.
Some pro-government lawmakers have accused the democrats of smearing Chow. They have called for the disbandment or suspension of the investigative committee until Kenneth Leung is removed from the body.