Chai Yan Leung, the daughter of Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung, hasn’t been doing her embattled father any favors lately. She recently drew the ire of pro-democracy protesters by bragging on Facebook that her luxury purchases are “funded by all you HK taxpayers.” Chai Yan quickly deleted her Facebook account after that rant went viral, but now the account is back (though the “all you HK taxpayers” post was deleted), and she is using it to threaten to sue every media outlet that reported on her social media foibles.
There is strong evidence that the Facebook account does in fact belong to Chai Yan Leung, and her family has publicly responded to controversial posts she has made there in the past. Quartz asked CY Leung’s office for confirmation of the account’s authenticity and was told in an email: “The Chief Executive’s Office has no comment on your enquiry.”
Chai Yan Leung, according to her Facebook profile, studied undergraduate-level law at the London School of Economics. And while her threats may sound somewhat overblown, Hong Kong law could actually be on her side, and against media outlets including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
Libel law in Hong Kong (pdf), based on the UK legal system, favors plaintiffs much more in than the United States. Newspaper defendants being sued for defamation, for instance, need to prove that not only that what they’ve published about someone is true, but also that publishing the information was “for the public benefit.” Publishing information known to be false carries a two year prison term, and publishing an apology is one potential defense.
Recent judgments have been harsh on defendants. Earlier this year, a Hong Kong judge ruled that a tycoon’s defamation lawsuit against Google—for “autocomplete” search suggestions that linked him to organized crime—could proceed. And in 2012, the Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily was successfully sued for libel for anonymous comments left in one of its online forums.
As for Chai Yan Leung, a prominent Hong Kong journalist suggested that her woes could potentially serve as a good excuse for CY Leung if he ends up stepping down:
An earlier version of this post misspelled Chai Yan Leung’s name.