LCQ4: Select Committee to Inquire into Matters about the Agreement between Mr Leung Chun-ying and the Australian firm UGL Limited
The Select Committee to Inquire into Matters about the Agreement between Mr Leung Chun-ying and the Australian firm UGL Limited (“the Select Committee”) set up by this Council commenced operation in early February this year. In recent months, the Chief Executive Mr Leung Chun-ying (“Mr Leung”) expressed his views on a number of occasions on the matters which the Select Committee is tasked to study (“the matters”), and sent his suggested amendments to the proposed major areas of study of the Committee to one Committee member. It has been reported that the Special Assistant in the Chief Executive’s Office (“CEO”) admitted that she had downloaded the aforesaid areas of study for Mr Leung. As such, some members of the public are concerned about whether the Government has deployed public resources (including government officers’ time for handling official business and the facilities in CEO) to provide assistance to Mr Leung regarding the matters. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the positions of the government officers who, under the existing arrangement, are responsible for assisting in handling the correspondence between the Chief Executive and Members of this Council, including delivery and filing of such correspondence;
(2) whether, since the commencement of the operation of the Select Committee, the Government has deployed any public resources to assist Mr Leung in forwarding his oral or written views on the matters to any members of the Committee; if so, of the number of occasions of such deployment and the number of members involved; and
(3) whether, since the commencement of the operation of the Select Committee, the Government has deployed any public resources to assist Mr Leung in preparing and publishing articles or speeches on the matters; if so, of the details, including the respective numbers of such articles and speeches, the government officers involved, and set out the time spent by such officers by their positions?
My reply to the question raised by Dr Hon Yiu Chung-yim, after consulting the Chief Executive’s Office (“CE’s Office”), is as follows:
Regarding Members’ accusation that the Chief Executive (“CE”) has interfered with the work of the Select Committee to Inquire into Matters about the Agreement between Mr Leung Chun-ying and the Australian firm UGL Limited (“Select Committee”) under the Legislative Council (“LegCo”), CE fully and clearly explained the reasons of the incident over the past month. He has detailed his stance and elaborately responded to the incident on a number of occasions, which included attending in person the CE’s Question and Answer Session on June 1 to address Members’ questions. CE considers that he has the right to raise his views with the Select Committee on its proposed areas of study, which in his opinion are worth further deliberation in some aspects, and that he has the right to provide relevant facts to the Select Committee during its inquiry. CE has also stated his two principles regarding the work of the Select Committee. First, the inquiry must be completed as soon as possible for it should not be delayed. Second, the scope must be comprehensive as he does not hope that something will be missed by the inquiry. Based on these two principles, CE has expressed his views on the areas of study of the Select Committee. CE considers that, as the subject of the inquiry, he has the right to request that the areas of study of the Select Committee must be comprehensive, fair and accurate and that the inquiry be completed as soon as possible.
CE wrote to the Select Committee on May 18 to officially put forward his views on the areas of study but has not received any response so far.
As pointed out by the former Chief Secretary for Administration and myself on several occasions in response to Members’ questions, the resignation agreement was simply a non-compete arrangement between UGL and Mr Leung to ensure that Mr Leung, subsequent to his departure from DTZ, would not move to a competitor, set up any business in competition with UGL or poach any employees from DTZ, hence ensuring that DTZ retained its business value after the acquisition by UGL. Such agreement was a confidential commercial arrangement and a standard business practice. The agreement and payments concerned arose from Mr Leung’s resignation from DTZ, not any future service to be provided by him. As confirmed in UGL’s public statement, Mr Leung has not provided any service to UGL after signing the resignation agreement.
As regards declaration, CE declared, upon assumption of office, his assets to the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”) pursuant to Article 47 of the Basic Law and such declaration has been put on record. Under the current system of declaration of interests by Members of the Executive Council (“ExCo”), there is no requirement that Mr Leung has to declare the said resignation agreement, let alone the fact that both his resignation from DTZ and conclusion of the agreement with UGL took place before he was elected as CE and that he had resigned from ExCo at the material time.
Dr Hon Yiu’s question concerns whether the Government has deployed public resources to provide assistance to CE regarding the above matters. As the head of the HKSAR, CE, on one hand, is subject to public monitoring, and on the other hand, needs to use public resources to handle and clarify comments or accusations concerning CE himself. For example, CE has been assisted by officers of the CE’s Office in answering enquiries from Members of LegCo, media and the public on the issue. In addition, the HKSAR Government has also sent appropriate officials to this Council time and again with a view to addressing relevant queries and debates among Members.
As I have mentioned just now, CE considers that, as the subject of the inquiry, he has the right to comment on the proposed areas of study of the Committee. We believe that there is nothing inappropriate to have such correspondences handled by the CE’s Office.
As for correspondence between CE and various parties, including LegCo Members, it is normally handled by officers of the CE’s Office according to its usual practice and case nature. As handling correspondence for CE is a routine duty, the CE’s Office does not have separate statistics on the number of hours spent and relevant resources used for individual cases. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:48
Issued at HKT 13:48