TIME The Philippines

Philippine-U.S. Ties Tested After Visiting Marine Accused of Murder

CORRECTION Philippines US Killing
Julita Laude, mother of killed transgender Jennifer Laude, talks to reporters during a rally near the USS Peleliu, where U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton is said to be held, at the Subic Bay free port, Zambales province, northern Philippines. Oct. 18, 2014. Aaron Favila—AP

Protesters have been chanting 'U.S. troops out now'

The alleged murder of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine has sparked outrage in the Philippines, with some calling into question the U.S. military’s presence in the country.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the U.S. military is allowed to conduct drills in the Philippines. The accord also gives the Philippines the power to prosecute American service members if they fall foul of the law, but they can remain in U.S. custody until the end of judicial proceedings, the Associated Press reports.

Several small protests took place in the country’s capital, Manila, and the city of Olongapo, where the alleged murder took place, and in the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay free port Saturday, where the suspect Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, is being kept on the U.S.S. Peleliu. He has been summoned by the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office to attend a hearing Tuesday.

Protesters have been chanting “U.S. troops out now” and calling for the Visiting Forces Agreement to be abolished.

But authorities say the case is isolated and not related to the treaty.

Read the full story here.

[Associated Press]

TIME Hong Kong

The Main Hong Kong Protest Site Is a Perfect Anarchist Collective

Members of the Occupied movement rest in their tents on a highway blocked by protestor barricades in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on October 16, 2014. ANTHONY WALLACE—AFP/Getty Images

There are no leaders, but everything, from the supply tents to the recycling stations, runs just beautifully

Billy Fong is out of a job.

Until recently, this high school student had found a purpose helping Hong Kong’s demonstrators over the high median dividers cutting through their encampment in the city’s Admiralty district.

Yet, as the occupation of Harcourt Road enters its fourth week, getting over the concrete walls has become easy: protesters handy with tools have made several sets of wooden stairs for them, complete with handrails.

“I have somehow become useless,” says Fong, 17, standing idly at one such set of steps on a recent evening. “But it’s okay,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Now I have more leisure time.”

Call Fong’s job a casualty of this protest’s maturation from an uncertain settlement to a bona fide village—a transformation that smacks of pure anarchism. Not anarchy, meaning chaos, but classical political anarchism: a self-organizing community that has no leader.

Protesters in Hong Kong share a common goal of getting Beijing to agree to free elections for the Hong Kong government’s top job in 2017 (at the moment, Beijing is insisting on screening candidates). But no one is fully in charge of these demonstrations, and protesters are split over how to get their demand answered. A lack of leadership is widely cited as one reason why the conflict has not come to a resolution.

Yet leaderlessness has not stopped Hong Kong demonstrators from achieving social consensus at their biggest protest site in skyscraper-hemmed Harcourt Road (or Umbrella Square, as the protesters now call it). These days, the six-lane thoroughfare turned tent community is a microcosm of the city that hosts it except for one detail: it does not have a chief executive, as Hong Kong’s leader is called.

“We don’t have a central command to do anything,” says Daris Wong, 30, a paralegal manning a Cantonese-English interpretation booth, the latest in his string of self-appointed protest gigs.

“It’s maybe the not so good thing about these protests,” he says, “but it’s also the most beautiful thing.”

Over the past few days, Harcourt Road has acquired suburbs of camping tents. Most tents have numbers. Some are recognized addresses. A letter was recently delivered by the Hong Kong Post Office to tent 22, according to the Democratic Party’s Facebook page.

Protesters need not bring their own accommodation. Last Friday, Pat, a freelance graphic designer who declined to give her last name, opened registration at 8:30 p.m. for 67 tents donated to the supplies station she helps run. The assembled tents are called the Freedom Quarter, she said, handing a young couple waiting in line a list of rules: cleanliness is a must; checkout time is noon on Saturday.

Protesters bedding-in will find their stay clean, if not necessarily comfortable. Do-gooders ensure that public restrooms around the site are stocked with a mind-boggling assortment of toiletries, from face moisturizer to conditioning shampoo, many of them designer brands. Student volunteers mop out the facilities too, because the municipal cleaners can’t keep pace with the high numbers of people passing through the washrooms every day.

Roving trash collectors meanwhile bring waste to designated recycling areas, where the items are sorted and carted out to the city’s trash-collection stations.

“I saw that it wasn’t being done, and someone has to do it,” says Henry Ip, 23, a college student making one of his twice-daily rounds through the site with a plastic trash bag.

Meanwhile, supply tents — there are several around Harcourt Road — have become bursting emporiums of water, towels, face masks, Oreo cookies and McDonalds takeout.

“It’s messy because I just got here,” says Isaac Hung, 24, a law student who works an informal day shift at one such station, gesturing to a sprawl of snacks and medical supplies. “Every shift, I fix it, and then I come back, and it’s all messy again.”

Hung’s supplies tent has two couches, mats that suffice as carpeting, and lighting fashioned from flashlights and saline solution bottles. A walkie-talkie on the floor crackles insistently. Supply stations use them to call on each other if one runs out of something

Conservation and consideration rule this camp. Wong, the paralegal, says he often tries to pass out lunchboxes to protesters, only to be turned down: “They say, ‘Save it for someone who needs it more,’” Wong says.

“So then I say, ‘O.K., but if you don’t take it, I will give it to the police,’” he adds. “Then, they take it.” As he speaks, students sitting in a sprawling study zone that the protesters have outfitted with desks, lamps, and power outlets, politely decline a volunteer stooping to offer them tiny cakes.

Like any village, this one also has its resident oddballs. One taciturn protester, wearing a skull-print ski mask pulled up to his eyes, passes plastic cups of soup to passerby. Glass bottles of beer bob inside in his big blue cooler. His area, furnished with a vase of sunflowers, is just one photographic opportunity for visitors wandering the protest village.

Art abounds, much of it inspired by the umbrellas that became the symbol of the movement after protesters used them to shield themselves from police pepper spray. There’s a tall statue of a figure holding out an umbrella that’s become the subject of countless Instagrams. A short distance away are exhibitions of photography and ink drawings. Tourists love to gather for photos in front of a long staircase leading up to the Central Government Offices that has become plastered with thousands of brightly colored Post-It notes, each bearing a message of support for the protesters. It’s been christened the Lennon Wall.

Not that life is always colorful here. Prominent pro-democracy figures — in fact anyone with something to say — give frequent lectures to considerable crowds, but “sometimes people get tired of public speeches,” says Ivy Chan, 40, a staffer for a Labor Party legislator and the organizer of nightly documentary screenings. She briefly interrupted a Friday night showing to let the sleepy-looking, supine crowd know she had found someone’s heart disease pills.

Meanwhile, a group of law students manning a tent for legal discussions were finding the hoped-for debates stymied by general agreement among those who stopped in. As Tilly Chow, 19, put it, “the people who are really against us aren’t here, and they don’t want to know what we have to say.” By midnight, the collective had drawn its tent door closed to discuss boiling a 60-something page legal analysis of the situation into something more concise.

Elsewhere, tents were faintly lit with the glow of Facebook’s smartphone app. A young man took a photo on his iPad of a young woman popping her head out of their newly erected tent and waited as she approved the pictures. Many people were already asleep, or at least trying.

Protesters, weathering criticism from conservative Hong Kongers and business owners tired of protests clogging major traffic arteries, have emphasized that this demonstration is not a jubilant sleepover. A sign posted in the main encampment reads: “Not a Party, is a Protest.”

Indeed, as midnight neared, three young women paused at a quiet, unclaimed plot of pavement and began unspooling tarp from a bag, looking anything but party-ready.

“This is not fun,” says Tracy Leung, 28, who works for a retail chain, holding a corner of the rumpled canvas, which she hoped would eventually be a tent, but did not yet look like one.

“No one likes to sleep on the street,” added her colleague, Carol Lee, 26.

But they had a critical role to play in this village, the three friends said.

“I’m here as one more body,” said Leung. “Because for every one less body here, it gets more dangerous for everyone else.”

TIME Hong Kong

U.S. Calls for Probe Into Beating of Political Activist by Hong Kong Police

Police Move In To Clear Away Hong Kong Protest Sites
A man, a friend of activist Ken Tsang, who got kicked and beaten by police officers, shouts as he kneels on a street outside of the Hong Kong Police Headquarters in Wan Chai district in Hong Kong on Oct. 15, 2014 Anthony Kwan—Getty Images

The attack has stunned many in a city fearful for its freedoms under Chinese sovereignty

The U.S. has called for a “swift, transparent and complete” investigation into the beating by Hong Kong police of a political activist that was captured by a local television news crew.

The attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning local time, during one of the most violent demonstrations in the almost three weeks of pro-democracy protests that have rocked this increasingly divided Chinese city.

“We renew our call for the Hong Kong government to show restraint, and for protesters to continue to express their views peacefully,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, adding that Washington was “deeply concerned by reports of police beating a protester.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron also reiterated calls on Wednesday for Beijing to respect the agreement it signed with Britain before Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997. The agreement, he says, guarantees to Hong Kongers “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike.”

The Hong Kong government has responded to mounting pressure by revisiting the possibility of talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), one of the main protest groups. At a press conference Thursday, the head of the government, embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said the government would negotiate with the HKFS using a vice-chancellor from one of Hong Kong’s universities as a mediator.

This is an abrupt reversal of its position just a week ago, when Leung’s deputy, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, called off scheduled talks with students, claiming that constructive dialog was “impossible.”

Hong Kong’s protesters have been venting fresh outrage at the police after news video of plainclothes officers assaulting Civic Party member Ken Tsang went viral and photos of his bruised face and chest were shared on social media. In the video, Tsang is arrested before being taken around a corner and beaten while on the ground with his hands bound by a plastic tie.

Public anger has also been galvanized by the arrest of 45 people during the confrontation at which Tsang was arrested, which took place when police prevented demonstrators seeking to barricade a major thoroughfare leading to the main financial district.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong police said at a press conference on Thursday that seven police officers involved in Tsang’s arrest have been suspended and that a criminal investigation into the matter had been launched. Police had on Wednesday reassigned the officers, citing “serious concern” about the videotaped beating, but had also criticized “radical protesters” involved in the early morning confrontation for behaving in “an aggressive manner,” including kicking officers and attacking them with umbrellas.

“Even with their arms raised, this just could hardly be a peaceful means of protest,” police said.

A government statement also attempted to put blame on the protesters for the tumult, saying “protesters threw objects from above, as well as traffic cones” and alleging that some “pushed officers.”

Hong Kong’s protesters are calling on Beijing to grant the territory free elections. At present, Beijing insists on screening candidates for chief executive and on limiting the field to three candidates at most. The incumbent Leung has infuriated protesters by refusing to resign — he is seen as unrepresentative of Hong Kong people — and for saying that their demands have an “almost zero” chance of being realized.

In recent days, Leung has also become embroiled in a financial scandal over millions of dollars in undeclared payments from an Australian engineering company. While he says the payments are legal because they relate to services provided before he took office, the affair has nonetheless further eroded confidence in his leadership.

Meanwhile, protesters continue to hold key commercial arteries for a third week, erecting barricades and tents in what has fast become the most significant political movement in China since the 1989 occupation of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

On Wednesday night, more than a thousand people joined a protest against the beating of Tsang, organized by the Social Workers Union. Standing outside police headquarters on Arsenal Street, just around the corner from the main protest encampment on Harcourt Road, the crowds chanted, “Shame, shame, shame” at a line of police officers and expressed disappointment with a force they felt had let them down.

“I can’t believe it,” said one man, a visibly upset social worker who declined to give his name. “This sort of thing happens frequently in mainland China, but not here,” he added.

“It’s so unjust,” said another protester, Linda To, a social worker. “I can’t really describe the pain of seeing such brutality happen here.”

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Democracy Protesters Lose Ground as Police Clear Barricades

Hong Kong Protests Barricades
Police officers remove barricades of pro-democracy protestors in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Oct. 14, 2014. Pedro Ugarte—AFP/Getty Images

The main protest site is intact, however

In a setback to pro-democracy demonstrators currently occupying a large section of central Hong Kong, police reopened two major roads on Tuesday morning after a quick and clinical dismantling of the barricades painstakingly reinforced by protesters the previous day.

In the Admiralty district, about 70 officers stood guard with plastic shields as dozens of their colleagues, armed with pliers and chainsaws, made short work of the makeshift barriers that had been built from trashcans, bamboo poles and road signs, reinforced in places with concrete. The barricades blocked the major thoroughfare of Queensway.

There was hardly any resistance from the protesters, who could only watch helplessly as police completely locked down the road, loaded the barricade materials into three large trucks and carted them away.

But a handful of protesters sat at the police line with umbrellas and cloth masks, determined and defiant.

“We will rebuild the things we built,” said 21-year-old Nick Ko, who said he was upset but would not give up. “I don’t think they will use tear gas again.”

The clashes between supporters and opponents of the pro-democracy movement that took place the previous day were largely absent, with only a few peaceful encounters and debates taking place.

Monday marked the beginning of the third week of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, dubbed the Umbrella Revolution after protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from police pepper spray.

Thousands of citizens have taken to the streets demanding the right to directly elect Hong Kong’s leader without interference from the central government in Beijing, which insists on screening candidates for the city’s top post.

By Tuesday afternoon, traffic was flowing for the first time in a fortnight on Queensway — the location of the city’s High Court and the glitzy Pacific Place development of luxury shops, hotels and offices. The barricades in the main protest area on Harcourt Road — called “Umbrella Square” by protesters — remain intact.

A section of the Causeway Bay protest site a few kilometers away was also reopened earlier in the day, with police clearing the barricades across the westbound lanes of Hennessy Road in the early morning. About a hundred protesters remained in the still-barricaded eastbound lane, planning their next steps.

“It won’t harm the momentum of the movement,” said Alex Chow, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and a protest leader. “The main pressure on the government is the number of people supporting the movement.”

He added, “If the police keep eliminating areas one by one, it will trigger the people to come out again.”

A protester with the last name Leung, a 25-year-old lab technician who has been at the Causeway Bay site for 13 days, said police could dismantle barricades but students would fight back if police tried “to remove all of us at once.”

—Video by Helen Regan/Hong Kong

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Student Protesters Prepare for Midterms and for Harder Questions

Hong Kong Protest Continues As Negotiations Break Down
Students do their homework at a study area at the protest site in Hong Kong on Oct. 10, 2014 Paula Bronstein—Getty Images

The city's young demonstrators are keeping up their studies on the barricades, but the big political questions may be harder to answer

Sitting in a road barricaded against police and thugs, Christopher Fung, 21, was armed for battle: he had two bags of M&Ms, and they weren’t even open yet.

Fung, an environmental-engineering student in Hong Kong, was readying himself for that test of smarts and sugar tolerance known as midterm season. Poised over coursework in fluid mechanics, laid on a concrete highway divider repurposed as a desk, he appeared to be facing his exams with all the confidence of a young rebel: “What we are doing on the streets is more important than exams,” he said.

As Hong Kong’s protests on Monday entered their fourth week since students first walked out of classes, Fung was among hundreds of droopy-shouldered demonstrators bent over calculators at a makeshift, but supremely well-organized, study area near government headquarters. Here, protesters are finding a balance between seeking the answers to two kinds of questions — those on exam papers, and the even harder ones being posed at the barricades: How can we make China answer us? Where is this all going? What should we do next?

Student protesters have pledged to blockade key commercial arteries in this efficient and orderly financial hub until Beijing agrees to table plans to vet candidates for the city’s top job — a position known as chief executive. To the students, this is pseudo democracy and they want the real thing. They are calling for Hong Kong’s 3.5 million voters to be given the freedom to nominate whoever they want to head the city’s government.

Beijing has given no sign of capitulation. Instead, China’s central government appears to be betting on the demonstrations gradually losing momentum, hoping that protesters will forfeit local goodwill from continued disruptions to traffic and commerce, and that the young demonstrators eventually bow to the pressures of schoolwork and head back to class.

On the last point, at least, Beijing appears to have misjudged, at least for now. Multiple universities, including City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University, have issued statements encouraging professors to consider making allowances for protesters. Students say they are still attending class in between protesting and that schoolwork, if taking some hits, is not outright tanking.

At a satellite encampment in Causeway Bay, high school students say their class attendance has been spotless — well, except for some tardiness, plus the occasional absence, explained away with emails from sympathetic parents or halfhearted apologies for “oversleeping alarms.”

“I’ve been [to school] every day,” says Edric Lee, 16, a sophomore at an international high school in Hong Kong, appearing out of a tent strewn with calculators, textbooks and pens, where he and friends were both studying and bedding each night.

“O.K., well, nearly every day,” Lee revises, as his friend Teresa Lui, 16, chortles tellingly at his side. “I get there late. But not that late. Noon. And, like, not that much.”

Lui, a junior, says she limits her protesting to weekends and evenings. But her teachers are supportive of students coming to the protests and have even visited a few times, to “check in on us and make sure we’re O.K.,” she says.

Both teens are also evening regulars at a makeshift school in the encampment, where local university students teach high-school-level coursework to students sitting on blue and white blankets. On tap for one recent evening: a biology course taught by a medical student, plus two hours of physics and math education taught by an undergrad. Later, there were courses in Greek drama (Antigone), English conversation, and yoga (whose instructor had cautioned, “Don’t eat too full!”).

“We know this is going to be a long fight, and the high school students can’t fall behind,” said Chris Lau, 21, a university student who was helping manage the class schedule, as well as teaching a course in self-defense that evening.

But was this physics major ready for his own exams?

“Oh my God, no,” said Lau, who had a midterm on Monday. It was Sunday evening.

“I just started studying today,” he said, looking besieged.

But there are also lessons harder than physics to be learned, as students weigh how, from here on, to challenge the Chinese government, after receiving nothing but telling silence. Hong Kong police have repeatedly called on demonstrators to open up key roads, and groups of fed-up residents have threatened to tear down protest encampments if the police do not do so first. Student leaders have apologized to residents and asked for continued goodwill for the occupation.

There has been some compromise. On Monday, after police attempted to clear a major road in Central district, and after armed men set upon some demonstrators, protesters redoubled their fortifications. But protesters in Causeway Bay allowed police early on Tuesday to open up the westbound lane in a thoroughfare running through the major shopping area.

At Hong Kong University, the daytime mood in the classroom is “business as usual” but less so after hours, when students head to the barricades and experience learning of a different kind.

“This is what university education is about,” says Paul Yip, a professor of social sciences at the school. “We’re not trying to protect them from anything. They’re adults now. They have choices, and they must make their own decisions, and then they must accept the consequences.”

Those discussions are, of course, also happening outdoors. In protest hot spots, class is in session each evening, with local professors giving lectures on all things democratic and protesters hunting for theoretical guidance on what, in practice, to do next.

Ming Sing, a professor of Hong Kong politics at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, says he has given four talks so far at protest sites, as part of a professor-organized “mobile democracy classroom” lecture series. Dozens of students have held him up for around two hours after each hour-long lecture, zinging questions like, How is this all going to end?

“If this ends in a bloody crackdown, we might see students become radicalized, but we might also see them become cynics and never try anything like this again,” he says.

On Monday evening, a group of high school boys still in uniform, ironed ties unloosened, wandered through Harcourt Road, a village of bright tents and signs urging, “If Not You, Then Who?” The students were not protesters, they said — officially, their school had urged them not to come, for safety reasons — but their school was nearby and they had wanted to see this alternative civics classroom.

“I did not know I believed in natural law until I started coming here,” said a 17-year-old student in the group, surnamed Chong, citing the idea that laws are discoverable in human reason.

“And I have to tell you,” he said, surrounded by a cohort who looked half-mocking, half-admiring, “I have never seen anything like this before. I have never seen Hong Kong look more beautiful than it does right now, right here.”

TIME Crime

Cornel West Arrested as Protests Continue in Ferguson

Activist Cornel West is detained by police during a protest at the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson
Activist Cornel West (2nd R) is detained by police during a protest at the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri, October 13, 2014. Jim Young—Reuters

Cornel West was one of the people arrested

Author, activist and academic Cornel West was arrested Monday in Ferguson, Mo., amid continued demonstrations demanding justice for Mike Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9.

Boston-based minister, activist and author the Rev. Osagyefo Sekou was also arrested, MSNBC reports. Earlier in the day, more than 1,000 protestors took part in a sit-in at the campus of St. Louis University.

The events occurred during a “weekend of resistance,” organized to protest “the epidemic of police violence facing Black and Brown communities.” Earlier this month, another black teenager in the St. Louis area named Vonderrit Myers, Jr. was killed by a white police officer.

Although there were more than a dozen arrests over the weekend, as well as accusations that police used excessive force, overall the protests were mostly peaceful compared to the ones that gained national attention in August, where tear gas was used on citizens and many more arrests, including of members of the media, occurred.


TIME Crime

See Pictures of the Weekend of Protests Around St. Louis

More acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in and around St. Louis over the weekend, calling for justice after two racially charged police shootings since August.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several days of demonstrations called “Ferguson October,” which marked just over two months since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, gave way to a sit-in at St. Louis University during a rally for Vonderrit Myers Jr., another black teenager who was fatally shot on Oct. 8. Police say Myers fired at them first, but his family insists he was unarmed. Additional acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME protests

Second Day of Protests Take Shape in St. Louis

Updated Saturday, Oct. 11

ST. LOUIS (AP) — More than 1,000 people gathered Saturday for a second day of organized rallies to protest Michael Brown’s death and other fatal police shootings in the St. Louis area and elsewhere.

Marchers started assembling in the morning hours in downtown St. Louis, where later in the day the Cardinals were set to host the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series.

The crowd was larger than the ones seen at Friday’s protests. The main focus of the march, scheduled to wind through downtown streets for several hours, was on the recent police shootings but participants also embraced such causes as gay rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Police officers were stationed around the area.

The four-day event called Ferguson October began Friday afternoon with a march outside the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office in Clayton and renewed calls for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed. A grand jury is reviewing the case.

“I have two sons and a daughter. I want a world for them where the people who are supposed to be community helpers are actually helping, where they can trust those people to protect and serve rather than control and repress,” said Ashlee Wiest-Laird, 48, a church pastor from Boston who attended Saturday’s march in St. Louis.

The situation in Missouri especially resonated with Wiest-Laird. She’s white and her adopted sons, ages 14 and 11, are black.

“What I see happening here is a moment in time. There’s something bigger here,” she said.

Organizers said beforehand that they expected 6,000 to 10,000 participants for the weekend’s events. Police were not able to provide a crowd estimate Saturday, but organizers and participants suggested the march’s size may have approached as many as 2,000.

Planned — but unannounced — acts of civil disobedience are expected Monday throughout the region.

After the initial march in Clayton, the demonstrations moved to Ferguson on Friday night as protesters stood inches from officers in riot gear before dispersing. Many then went to the neighborhood on St. Louis’ south side where a police shooting of another black 18-year-old occurred Wednesday night.

The white St. Louis officer, whose name hasn’t been released, shot Vonderrit D. Myers after police say Myers opened fire. Myers’ parents say he was unarmed.

The officer was in uniform but working off-duty for a private neighborhood security patrol. Police said he fired 17 rounds, and preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed Myers.

Tensions increased early Saturday in Ferguson after the St. Louis neighborhood protesting, with hundreds of protesters gathering outside the Ferguson Police Department. Some chanted, “Killer cops, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” as a wall of about 100 officers in riot gear stood impassively.

TIME Crime

Scenes From a Second Night of Protests Over Police Shooting in St. Louis

Protesters took to the streets for a second night in St. Louis after holding a candlelight vigil for Vonderrit Myers, the 18-year-old black man who was killed by a white off-duty officer. Authorities say the officer returned fire after Myers began shooting, but Myers' family claims he was unarmed. The incident comes about two months after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot in nearby Ferguson, Mo., and has reignited protests over racism and excessive force by police in the area

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Leader Faces Twin Investigations Over Financial Scandal

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying Interview
Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's chief executive, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers are also trying to impeach him—and all at a time when thousands of demonstrators are in the streets agitating for more democracy and his ouster

Pressure is building on Hong Kong’s embattled top leader over a scandal involving undisclosed payments from an Australian engineering firm, with prosecutors in both Hong Kong and Australia investigating the matter and the democratic bloc in the Hong Kong legislature preparing impeachment proceedings.

The concurrent investigations are a fresh challenge to the rule of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, locally known as “C.Y.” He is already facing thousands of pro-democracy protesters who refuse to leave the streets until Beijing backs down from a plan to vet candidates in future Chief Executive elections.

“The timing is not good for C.Y. Leung,” says Michael Davis, a law professor at Hong Kong University. “This is of course a political headache.”

The investigations follow a report published by Fairfax Media in Australia on Wednesday, which stated that the Hong Kong leader accepted $6.4 million in payments from engineering firm UGL. Leung, who took office in March 2012, closed a deal with UGL before standing for Chief Executive, but did not disclose the payments to be made under that deal when taking the post, Fairfax reported.

John Garnaut, the Australian journalist who co-wrote the report, told the South China Morning Post that he received documents revealing the deal on Oct. 5 from an anonymous source.

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Justice Department gave the prosecutors’ office in Hong Kong the authority to investigate the matter for any illegalities. As well as announcing plans to bring impeachment proceedings against him, democratic members of the Legislative Council have asked the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to investigate the Beijing-backed leader.

Meanwhile, Australian government officials on Thursday asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate UGL for possible breaches of national foreign bribery laws.

Either of the two investigations could spell disaster for Leung, says Surya Deva, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong and a specialist in Asian corporate law.

“If there is any adverse finding in one of the cases, it will affect the other,” says Deva.

“If you’re doing something illegal or unlawful, you’re not doing it alone,” he says, referring to UGL and Leung.

The scandal involves two bundles of payments Leung reportedly received in 2012 and 2013, as part of the sale of property-services firm DTZ to UGL. At the time of the sale, Leung was Asia-Pacific director for DTZ. He resigned from that post on Nov. 24, 2011, three days before he announced his Chief Executive bid. He went on to win Hong Kong’s highest post in March 2012.

UGL and Leung have both said they were under no obligation to disclose the payments, since the deal was signed before Leung took office.

Deva said it’s not clear if Leung’s decision not to reveal the payments to the public upon taking office broke Hong Kong laws. But Leung’s silence on the deal was, at best, unethical—perhaps unethical enough to fell Leung’s political career, he says.

“Legally, he may be in the clear, but ethically, he is in the wrong,” he says.

At issue are stipulations in the contract obliging Leung to act for UGL “as a referee and adviser from time to time”—an obligation that extended into his eventual taking of Hong Kong’s helm. Leung put a handwritten note into the contract that he would do so “provided that it does not create any conflict of interest.”

Davis adds that the fresh scandal—coupled with the ongoing Occupy Central demonstrations that show little sign of letting up—might persuade Beijing to lean on Leung to resign, especially if the stalemate between the protesters and the Hong Kong government endures. Indeed, optimism for any breakthrough in the ongoing standoff dulled on Thursday night, when Chief Secretary Carrie Lam abruptly cancelled talks with student protest leaders and students pledged to up the ante with a rally on Friday night.

“The Chinese government’s policy on corruption is, of course, selective,” says Davis. “But if [Leung] continues to mismanage the Occupy Central crisis, and now with this scandal, he may become too much of a liability.”

Leung was the Chinese government’s second choice for Hong Kong’s top leader in 2012. A pro-Beijing electoral committee of 1,200 members had originally favored Hong Kong tycoon Henry Tang for the job, but an admission of adultery, plus the discovery of a lavish, illegally built basement at Tang’s home, tanked his prospects. In the end, a slim majority of just 689 voters secured Leung the job—a feeble tally that has prompted the pro-democracy camp to give him the derisory nickname of “Six Eight Nine.”

Even so, Beijing has appeared to put its full weight behind the beleaguered leader during the protests, flatly refusing demonstrators’ demands that Leung resign.

Davis, the law professor, says a forthcoming resignation seems unlikely, at least not until the investigations conclude, and only if the probe returns findings of illegalities. ICAC investigations are notorious for their length—an inquiry into allegations that former Chief Executive Donald Tsang accepted favors from business tycoons has been dragging on since Feb. 2012.

“This may weigh on him in the long-term,” says Davis, “but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that yet.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser