Hitting new depths with C.Y.'s basement
Leung Chun-ying won his election as the new chief executive with tenuous public support. Many people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in the absence of a better alternative candidate. Now he may have lost what little goodwill there might be for him to govern effectively.
Revelations that he has no fewer than six illegal structures - including a large, unauthorised basement - at his home on The Peak are breathtaking. This is nothing short of a scandal, and it's a wholly self-inflicted wound. He has no one to blame but himself.
Leung's incompetence and dishonesty have now been exposed and proved to be every bit as bad as those of his election rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen. Tang lost his bid largely because of the dishonest and disingenuous statements he made about illegal structures at his homes in Kowloon Tong.
Leung has even less of an excuse than Tang to plead ignorance because he is a surveyor by profession and must know the law. More importantly, he had previously claimed to have checked his properties and found no illegal structures. Either the professionals he hired were completely incompetent or Leung was lying.
If the latest revelations had surfaced during the election, they would have doomed his bid. If he had lied, he could have breached election laws and surveyors' code of conduct. The very legitimacy of his election is therefore being called into question.
But even if the powers that be turn a blind eye to all questions about Leung's alleged misconduct and allow him to take office in a week, Hong Kong may be in for a prolonged governance crisis. How can his government crack down on illegal structures and negotiate an end to the small house policy with rural residents when the chief executive is as guilty as they are? The public will become disillusioned because Leung has discredited himself even before he starts his job.
Perhaps the dark-horse candidate and democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan should now step forward and offer himself for the top job. But first we need to make sure Ho doesn't have any illegal structures at his home.