Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers made an unprecedented attempt yesterday to impeach the territory’s embattled China-backed leader, accusing him of breaking housing laws and calling on him to quit.
The 27 pro-democracy lawmakers who signed the territory’s first impeachment motion accused Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) of lying, dereliction of duty and serious breaches of the law in a row that stems from illegal structures at his luxury home.
The move — which is unlikely to succeed — follows a protest on New Year’s Day in which tens of thousands urged Leung to quit and press for greater democracy 15 years after the territory returned to Chinese rule.
Leung took office in July after being picked by the 1,200-strong Hong Kong Electoral Committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites, amid rising anger over what many perceive to be China’s meddling in local affairs.
China has said the chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020.
Unauthorized structures are a sensitive issue in the space-starved territory of 7 million and demonstrators have used the scandal to press for universal suffrage in choosing Hong Kong’s leader.
Leung secured the post after criticizing rival Henry Tang (唐英年) over illegal structures in Tang’s home.
Maverick lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) presented the impeachment motion to the legislature wearing a T-shirt reading “We topple a tyrant.”
Hong Kong Chief Secretary of Administration Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), Leung’s second-in-command, urged lawmakers to reject the motion. She said it was unnecessary after the leader survived a no-confidence vote on the same issue.
“We should focus our efforts on the important policy and livelihood issues,” she said.
However, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau (劉慧卿) told reporters that Leung had “cheated his way to power.”
“This is the first time we have a motion in the legislature to impeach a cheating chief executive,” she said.
Analysts say the motion is unlikely to be passed as the 70-member legislature is dominated by pro-Beijing legislators. The pro-democracy camp controls 27 seats. If it were passed, the territory’s highest court would have to initiate an investigation. At least two-thirds of the legislature would need to endorse a guilty finding before Leung could be removed from office.
Earlier, rival protesters clashed outside the legislature and security personnel had to step in at one point when an angry pro-government supporter charged towards the rival group, television footage showed.