Hong Kong‘s Chief Executive (their effective Head of State, though it’s a SAR of China) is in hot water after he allegedly invoked exceptions for his family not to undergo the usual security procedures at HKIA.
How much exceptions can an airport give to people without compromising it’s security?
BBC News is one of the few western media outlets that reported over the case (see here).
The Apple Daily alleged he had asked Cathay Pacific staff to help his daughter retrieve her carry-on luggage which had been left outside the restricted area on 28 March.
The bag was then delivered directly to the gate in violation of procedure, the report said. But Mr Leung denies speaking to staff. The chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Emily Lau, has asked for an independent investigation into the incident.
According to airport security rules, passengers must exit the restricted area to get any left behind luggage and go through immigration again.
The paper’s report said Leung Chung-yan, 23, was at the boarding gate for her flight to San Francisco from Hong Kong International airport when she realised she had left her carry-on bag outside the restricted area.
Her mother, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, who was in the restricted area as a “special person” to see her off asked the staff to bring the luggage to the gate, Apple Daily said. The staff declined to do so.
Apple Daily says Ms Leung then called her father, who they allege then asked that the luggage be brought into the restricted area. The staff then brought the luggage as a “special case”, the report said.
In a statement late on Wednesday, Mr Leung said although he knew about the incident, he did not have any contact with airport staff “let alone exerting pressure on them”.
He denied that Mrs Regina Leung was in the restricted area and also that he had asked staff to address him as “Chief Executive Leung”.
I have followed the case in both the western and local HK press and from what I read this matter there seems to be more of a political and social twist to it than actual compromising the airports security. This is fueled additionally due to the fact that Leung is widely unpopular and many Hong Kong’ers see his as a puppet of the Central Government in Beijing which has to vet both the candidates and the winner of the Election for Hong Kong’s top political post.
But let’s be objective. The man and his family isn’t just any regular passenger but the Chief Executive of the country (SAR). Why shouldn’t there be an exception for himself and his family? It’s rather remarkable that they use the regular commercial terminal in the first place.
Can you imagine this being an issue if it was President Obamas daughters suitcase at LAX or Angela Merkels in Frankfurt? The bag would be brought over after undergoing regular security screening as per protocol, therefore completely fulfilling the requirement to keep the departure area sterile.
There are only two people I can imagine the top political figure of HK can call to make this happen. The CEO of Cathay Pacific or the CEO of Hong Kong International Airport, both numbers I bet are in his cellphone. Those people are not ‘staff’ and I can’t believe someone like that calling some mid to low level person to lay himself out in such a way.
Maybe I’m missing a sensibility if it’s a common custom in Hong Kong that people there feel everyone should be treated 100% equal no matter of their position but in the real world there will always be exceptions for wealthy people and especially political leaders.
Leung’s daughter made controversial social media posts in the past and isn’t very popular either so again this seems to be more a social matter than an actual issue since there is so much disdain for Leung as the political leader. And about the fact that Leung appears to be lying about the matter. He should say yes it was the case and that’s absolutely ok. Case closed.