FORMER Chief Executive Leung Chunying (梁振英) defended signing the contract for the lease of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC, 外國記者會), saying if he had known its stance on independence he would not have signed it.
The lease of the club’s headquarters on Lower Albert Road (下亞厘畢道) came under more scrutiny after the government took the initiative to publicise the contract on 12 September.
Leung has been criticising the FCC for inviting National Party (民族黨) convener Andy Chan Ho-tin (陳浩天) to give a speech on 14 August, saying the FCC, while paying token rent, provided a platform for independence advocates on government property.
The lease showed that the chief property manager of the Government Property Agency (政府產業署) was “duly authorised by the chief executive” to extend the lease on 29 December, 2015.
To add to the contradictions in Leung’s criticisms, it was stated that the lease was “at a monthly rent of HK$550,000”.
In response, Leung wrote two posts within three hours on his Facebook page on 13 September, saying it was “very good” that the lease was publicised.
In the first post he quoted a term on the lease that the FCC should not use the premises “for any illegal or immoral purposes, and the determination of the lessor as to what constitutes illegal or immoral purposes shall be final and binding on the lessee”.
Leung added that if the government is not satisfied with the use of the premises, “the lessor shall be entitled to terminate this lease and take back possession of the premises”.
Leung stressed that the lease termination only needed three months’ notice and no compensation shall be paid.
Leung said this was why the FCC did not include discussion about Chan’s speech in the minutes of its board of governors meeting in June and July.
Leung also wrote about a media inquiry as to why the lease was extended during his term as chief executive.
“The answer is simple: if the FCC invited somebody to advocate independence back then, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to the lease extension,” Leung said.
Meanwhile, 14 September marked the deadline for the National Party to give its representation to the Security Bureau (保安局) on the Assistant Societies Officer’s (助理社團主任) recommendation to ban the party.
Chan said he had not submitted the defence but he had prepared it. “I’ve got everything ready, but I haven’t decided whether to submit it or not,” Chan added, without saying how he would defend his party from being banned.
He said the past two weeks were peaceful, with nobody tailing him or knocking on his door, as had happened before the police recommended banning the party.
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 21 September 2018)