Tsang, C.Y. in top-level meeting
Tanna Chong, Tony Cheung in Beijing, Joyce Ng and Stuart Lau
Scandal-plagued incoming and outgoing chief executives Leung Chun-ying and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen are believed to be meeting China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping today, according to a source close to Beijing.
The meeting with the vice-president was to take place in the National Museum of China before the duo officiated at the opening of an exhibition commemorating the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's change of sovereignty, the source said.
Commentators said a meeting before July 1 showed that Beijing was still supportive of Leung despite the controversy over illegal structures at his houses on The Peak.
Meanwhile, there were signs that the Democratic Party is backing away from a court challenge to Leung's election over allegations that he had made misleading statements about the structures during the election campaign - although party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan insisted he was pressing ahead.
Veteran China commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said a meeting with Leung and Tsang a few days before the transfer of power showed Beijing wanted a smooth transition.
'Leaders are also showing their support for Leung despite the scandals,' Lau said.
Tsang is under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over his dealings with tycoon friends and has been criticised for staying in luxury hotel suites during official trips aboard.
Leung is also being investigated by the Legislative Council over an alleged conflict of interest in a West Kowloon design competition. A Legco report will be released today.
Ho, third-placed candidate in the election behind former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen - whose own illegal structure, a 2,000 sq ft basement at his family's home in Kowloon Tong, contributed to his defeat - said he had filed 12 questions through his lawyers to the chief executive-elect's office. He said the questions sought more details about the six illegal structures found in Leung's houses in Peel Rise, the identities of professionals Leung said he had consulted in checking the houses and details of the purchases in 1999.
'If he has not replied to me within 48 hours I will take it to the court immediately,' Ho said.
The Democrats said on Monday they would file a legal challenge - an election petition or a judicial review - to Leung's victory in March.
Ho said yesterday that further court action - more likely a judicial review - depended on Leung's reply, but denied he was backing down.
Under election laws the court can extend the deadline of a judicial review if it considers the case would be in the interests of justice.
Democrats also claimed they had been invited to 'make witness statements' to the Independent Commission Against Corruption which they saw as a sign that the graft-buster was following Leung's case.
The Civic Party has also written to Leung demanding more documents regarding the illegal structures.
Meanwhile, the chief executive-elect's office led a media delegation to inspect Leung's houses, following the dismantling of most of the structures exposed in the past few days.