By Aaron Tam (AFP) – Jul 5, 2012
HONG KONG — Pro-democracy lawmakers Thursday filed legal challenges to the election of Hong Kong's new leader less than a week after he took office amid the biggest demonstrations in the city in nearly a decade.
Organisers said 400,000 people took to the streets Sunday to protest against Leung Chun-ying's leadership and Beijing's interference in local affairs, hours after he was sworn in as chief executive before Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho said he filed two separate legal cases with the high court Thursday, 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 told AFP.
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 city's seven million population does not get to choose its own leader by popular vote.
The legal challenges centre 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 dramatically plunge during the race after an illegal basement was found at his home.
But Leung, a surveyor by profession, was forced to apologise last week after local media discovered his home in an upscale neighbourhood had six illegal structures. He quickly demolished 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 given to AFP.
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 filed a similar lawsuit on Wednesday to challenge the leader's win.
The new 57-year-old leader had a rocky start after he was heckled by protesters and was bundled out of a community hall by police at a town hall-style meeting with locals on Monday, his first day in office.
Even before he began his term, Leung had already attracted protests drawing thousands of people decrying Beijing interference in the leadership poll.
Leung urged people to work with him as he vowed to tackle a widening gap between rich and poor, and soaring property costs which have made home ownership an impossible dream for many residents, especially younger people.
A poll released by the Chinese University of Hong Kong last week showed Leung's popularity rating falling to 51.5, down 4.2 points from a month ago, with nearly 40 percent of people saying they did not trust the government.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 but maintains a semi-autonomous status with its own legal and financial systems.
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