Former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said on Tuesday he would not repay the Legislative Council before the lawsuit surrounding his disqualification was over. The Legislative Council Commission sued Leung for HK$2.98 million last Friday, asking that he repay the salaries and subsidies he received, with interest.
Leung was one of the lawmakers ousted from office over protests they made during their oaths-taking ceremonies in 2016. Leung is the only one still contesting his seat, and his case will be heard by the Court of Appeal in November.
The Legislative Council Commission – a body of lawmakers in charge of administrative affairs at the legislature – first demanded the repayment of salaries and operating expenses last November. After the commission reduced the payment amount, three other ousted lawmakers agreed to repay around HK$200,000 to 300,000. Leung refused.
Leung told reporters on Tuesday that the commission’s decision was an exercise of “despotic power.”
“I think it’s laughable. They spent so much effort trying to chase back their expenses from 2016 to 2017, which was my salary and the money I used to serve the public. It is completely despotic and unreasonable,” he said.
“Earlier they waived the repayment of salary [for other ex-lawmakers], so are they trying to punish me for appealing the disqualification? ” he added.
Leung said he was not greedy and would be willing to repay the full amount if the court ruled against him. He said he had faith in the rule of law and would apply for legal aid.
“If Hong Kong still has the rule of law, if I win the lawsuit, then – unless the government applies for an injunction – I will be reinstated [as a lawmaker] with immediate effect,” he said. “Why the rush to ask for repayment?”
In May, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung said the commission must take action or risk being seen as toothless.
“We have no choice, although we may not want to choose to go that route,” Leung said at the time.
Leung Kwok-hung made his Thursday announcement in the Legislative Council complex, accompanied by pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Cheung.
“No matter if you agree with [Leung’s] politics, you have to admit he did work while in office,” Cheung said, adding that the request for repayment was political persecution and a waste of public funds.