Pro-democracy lawmakers yesterday filed legal challenges to the election of Hong Kong’s new leader just days after he took office amid the biggest demonstrations in the territory in nearly a decade.
Organizers said 400,000 people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s (梁振英) leadership and Beijing’s interference in local affairs, hours after Leung was sworn in as chief executive before Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho (何俊仁) said he filed two separate legal cases with the high court yesterday, seeking to oust Leung on grounds that the leader allegedly made false statements during the election campaign.
“I just want to uphold the integrity of the system to make sure we have a fair election,” said Ho, who contested against Leung and another candidate in the leadership election in March, but finished third.
“Our system is already less than democratic, it’s undemocratic, at least the minimum we want is that the process was held strictly in accordance with the laws,” the lawyer said.
Leung was picked by a 1,200-strong committee packed with pro-Beijing elites in March in a process dubbed a “small circle” election, where the territory’s 7 million population does not get to choose its own leader by popular vote.
The legal challenges were centered on Leung’s pledge that his house had no illegal improvement works — a controversial issue in Hong Kong that saw support for Leung’s main rival Henry Tang (唐英年) dramatically plunge during the race after an illegal basement was found at his home.
However, Leung, a surveyor by profession, was forced to apologize last week after local media discovered his home in an upscale neighborhood had six illegal structures, and to quickly demolish them.
Citing local laws, Ho claimed Leung had engaged in “illegal conduct” by making a “false and misleading statement” and asked the court to declare that Leung was not duly elected, according to a copy of the court filing.
Ho is also seeking an injunction to stop Leung from acting in the office to which he has been elected.
The court has yet to fix a date to hear both cases.
Maverick lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) filed a similar lawsuit on Wednesday to challenge the leader’s win.
Even before he began his term, Leung had already attracted protests drawing thousands of people decrying Beijing interference in the leadership poll, but he has urged the public to work with him.