Speech of the Hon KP Chan on Motion under Rule 49B(1A) of Rules of Procedure at the Legislative Council on 18 April 2012 (Synopsis)
• After conducting the probe for 26 months, the Committee of Inquiry has completed its task and released its report last month. Its conclusions and rationale in the report are also elucidated at a media briefing. Still, there are criticisms that this inquiry is wasting time and public fund. They say the Legislature has spent HK$1.57 million and over two years to find the allegations inconclusive. There is insufficient evidence in support of censuring the Hon Kam for misconduct under Article 79(7) of the Basic Law.
• As Vice-chairman of the Committee, may I response to these criticisms? In my view, this inquiry is not wastage of time and money but an act to defend credibility of the Legislature and reassure public confidence. These are matters of principle. Furthermore, it would clarify any doubt on affected parties and uphold justice. As a matter of fact, there were over 100 reports in the media every day back in 2009 after exposure of allegations. The Legislative Council also received letters, emails and phone calls from in favour of an investigation. All these reflected the public did have grave concern.
• In these circumstances, this Council could not be ignorant. If we did, we would inevitably be criticized of cover-up and protecting our colleague. We would not be able to justify our inertia. At the end of the day, we would hardly remove doubts of the public. On the other hand, the allegation involved misconduct of an Honorable Member of this Council and was inherently serious. There were also many doubts and controversies. As the incident occurred in the office of the Member and involved public funds, this Council has the unequivocal duty to find out what had happened and uphold justice for the benefit of both the Hon Kam Nai-wai and Ms Wong Lai-chu.
• Some also criticized that this inquiry was fruitless as it did not find any creditable proof nor draw any conclusion. I do not believe that worthiness of an inquiry should be judged only by having the accused censured. We are not trying to disqualify the accused and this is no our goal, but to uphold justice for all. Therefore, we should not elect inaction simply because we were unlikely to find additional evidence. If we did, we would not be acting responsibly.
• Moreover, the Report points out that the Legislative Council does not have procedures and sanctions related to misconduct that is not serious enough to warrant disqualification. The Committee of Inquiry recommends this Council to reconsider the existing arrangements to provide them for different degrees of misconduct as a means of upholding creditability. I fully support this recommendation. With the development of local politics and increasing transparency, Members are more susceptible to complaints against misconduct in future. We should consider this issue early to avoid facing an unfortunate situation of lacking such procedures.
• Why did we pursue the investigation without a plaintiff? Ms Wong informed the Committee that she was under excessive stress and would like to put the matter behind the sooner the better. She also wished to remain low-key. When the Committee inquired on the Hon Kam and other witnesses, it had taken into account Ms Wong’s public statement to the Legislative Council dated 3 December 2009 and put relevant questions to them. Furthermore, all witnesses attending the hearing provided useful testimonies that helped the Committee of Inquiry fully master what had or might have happened. In the circumstances, the Committee of Inquiry decided to respect the wish of Ms Wong and to abstain from seeking authorization of the full Council to summon her under the power and privilege law. If the Committee did so, it would put her under further stress and might be more damaging.
• Why did it take 26 months to complete? Were there occasions of delay? Firstly, there were two session breaks of six months in total during the inquiry. Secondly, the Committee decided to disallow the Hon Kam cross-examining witnesses. Instead, arrangements were made for him to review and response to evidence and testimonies of witnesses. The related exchange of correspondences took time. Thirdly, hearing dates had to fit in diaries of both the Hon Kam and his counsel. The latter were only available on Saturdays. Finally, the Hon Kam’s counsel wrote to the Committee on at least 10 occasions on rights of his principal and procedural matters. On every occasion, the Committee considered carefully his arguments with a view to upholding integrity and equity of the inquiry.