Hong Kong leader drops plan to extend anti-bribery laws to chief executive post
02 Dec 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will not extend the city’s anti-bribery laws to cover her own chief executive position, reneging on a promise she made in her election manifesto three years ago.

Lam said amending the law would affect her “constitutional role” in the political system, insisting Beijing – which the Post earlier reported was opposed to the change – would take any necessary actions were she to be involved in misconduct.

“[The amendments] were far more complicated, and could end up with … very difficult situations for the chief executive to discharge his or her duties. That’s why, despite attempts being made, we could not overcome those difficulties,” she said ahead of her weekly meeting with her policy advisers on Tuesday.

Lam was referring to Sections 3 and 8 of the anti-bribery ordinance, which govern the conduct of ministers and civil servants, but exempt the chief executive.

Calls to address the issue first emerged in 2012, when then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen faced allegations of accepting bribes from a businessman. A special committee chaired by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang later recommended the law be revised to cover the city leader and require he or she to obtain permission before accepting advantages.

Running for the top job in 2017, Lam vowed to revise the ordinance as suggested and to “resolve as soon as possible those constitutional and legal issues” necessary for an amendment. Following her victory that same year, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said in a reply to lawmakers that the government would “initiate the legislative procedure as early as possible”.

By Cheryl Heng and Natalie Wong, South China Morning Post, 1 December 2020

Read more at South China Morning Post

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