Leung Chun-ying

Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Follow the paper trail to get to the bottom of 'basementgate'

What did he know and when did he know it? This question was hurled at US president Richard Nixon when he tried to cover up the Watergate scandal. The decades-old question has found new life in Hong Kong. Henry Tang Ying-yen was bombarded with it when his 'basementgate' scandal broke. The scandal sank his run for chief executive. To be fair, we must now throw the question at incoming chief executive Leung Chun-ying. What did he know and when did he know about his 'basementgate'? Did he know during the election campaign when Tang was being sucked into his own 'basementgate' cesspool? Leung insists he had no clue about the six illegal structures at his home on The Peak and found out only when building inspectors confirmed media reports. Nixon, at first, claimed ignorance of the Watergate scandal. And Tang likewise insisted he knew nothing about the palatial basement under his house, saying his wife built it. On the face of it, Leung's plea of innocence seems credible. He didn't hide the structures and was actually sprucing up the basement for his police bodyguard. But glaring questions remain unanswered. Why didn't he make sure his own house was clean when Tang's scandal broke? Surely that was a no-brainer. Did he cover up his own cesspool so he could hold on to his election lead, while he watched Tang drown? He insists the structures were there when he bought the house. But the public needs proof. He says experts he sought advice from gave his house the all-clear. Who are these experts, and how could they have missed things that government inspectors discovered in just hours? When he bought the house he signed documents freeing the seller of any responsibility for illegal structures. Why? A paper trail must exist that leads to the truth. Follow the paper trail - that's Public Eye's deep throat advice to those wanting to get to the bottom of this.

Scandals work both ways

Here we go again - more voices from la-la land. Barry Cheung Chun-yuen is the man who ran C.Y. Leung's successful chief executive campaign. He is now warning opponents not to use Leung's illegal structures scandal in September's Legislative Council election. This from a man who, along with his boss, exploited the basement scandal which sank election rival Henry Tang. As we said, on the face of it, Leung's innocence claim seems credible. But politics is a dirty game. Cheung played dirty. And now he wants his opponents to give Leung a break? How come he didn't give Tang a break? Instead, he and his cronies used Tang's basement scandal to beat him on the head. Scandals work both ways, Mr Cheung. They're the red meat of politics. You either feed hungrily on them or you get eaten up by them, depending on which end of the scandal you're at.

Red flags over Lam's role

Remember the smug face of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on TV when Henry Tang's basement scandal broke? In her usual tough-talking way, she declared Tang would have to face the law in exactly the same way as anyone else. In other words - no special treatment. Contrast that with her handling of C.Y. Leung's 'basementgate'. No smug looks or tough talk on TV. She doesn't like Tang. That's no secret. She let it be known during the election that she would quit if Tang won. As Leung's favourite bureaucrat she's widely tipped to be the new government No2 - Tang's old job. But for now, she's still the development secretary, which means she's overseeing the probe into the basement scandal of her future boss, with whom she has close ties. Surely, that raises red flags. Will she give him an easy ride? It's a legitimate question. Critics want her to step aside. She has refused. Why?