The debate over banker David Li Kwok-po's role in the Executive Council and Legislative Council took a new twist yesterday.
A pro-Beijing lawmaker added her voice to the chorus of democrats calling on Li, the chief executive of Bank of East Asia, to resign from both councils.
The chorus reached a crescendo earlier this month when it was revealed Li had agreed to pay more than HK$63 million to settle an allegation involving insider trading in the United States without admitting or denying any wrongdoing.
With BEA (0023) expected to announce its fiscal year-end earnings today, Federation of Trade Unions vice chairwoman Chan Yuen-han said Li should resign from Exco because his personal integrity had been called into question.
"As an Exco member, Li represents the government, so the chief executive should also take a stand," said Chan, who is also a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
She said the Hong Kong Monetary Authority should also look into the case.
However, DAB chairman Tam Yiu- chung said Li should give an account of his actions before anybody - including the chief executive and Legco members - should be pressured into commenting on the case.
Liberal Party lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung shared the same view.
Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the question of whether Li should stay in Exco should be discussed by the Legco panel on constitutional affairs.
But he said there was no reason why Li should not be allowed to hold on to his Legco seat since another lawmaker, Chim Pui-chung, was allowed to retain his despite serving a prison sentence.
"The DAB has been making a lot of noise about Anson Chan Fang On- sang's 100 percent mortgage loan, which occurred 10 years ago, but has not said anything so far about Li," Tong said, adding that perhaps the pro- Beijing party had double standards.
Tam replied: "I think Chan's and Li's cases are entirely different. Li does not have any special relationship with our party and we are not siding with him."
Chim, who represents the financial services sector, said it was not for lawmakers to decide whether Li should stay in or quit Exco.
However, both Tong and Chim agreed that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen should say something about the case.
They both pointed out that an Exco member is an adviser to the chief executive who should have the final say.
The Chief Executive's Office reiterated yesterday the details of the case were still being studied, and that any comment at this time would be inappropriate.
"Even though a US court has not found him guilty, Li paid such a large sum to settle the case which could be interpreted he had indirectly admitted he was wrong," Tong said.
Li had agreed to pay US$8.1 million (HK$63.18 million) to settle an allegation of insider trading leveled by Dow Jones in the United States. Albert Cheng King-hon, in whose radio station Li has promised to invest, refused to comment yesterday on whether Li should stay in the Exco.
"I still believe in Li's personal integrity," Cheng said.
Corporate governance activist David Webb said he will close his poll regarding Li's resignation today.
More than 1,000 people took part in the vote with 93 percent saying Li should resign from Exco, 89 percent asking him to resign from Legco, and 67 percent telling him to resign as BEA chairman and CEO.