Indecision leaves a cabinet-in-waiting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 July, 2012, 12:00am


As Leung Chun-ying braved his second town-hall meeting yesterday, his new set-up remained shrouded in uncertainty - with Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong still pondering his future and the development minister refusing to explain his alleged abuse of the civil service rental allowance in the 1980s.

Lam said he needed a few more days to consider whether to resign from Exco in the face of criticism about his new position conflicting with his role as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

'I still stand by my initial judgment, but I heard there are opposing voices,' Lam told a radio show yesterday. 'To respect them and allow discussion among society, especially NGOs working with the commission, I need a few more days before making an objective decision and reviewing whether my initial judgment was careless.'

Insisting he could handle the two roles without fear of compromise, he added: 'Conflict of interest won't occur as the two organisations are both for the public's own interest.'

Fellow Exco member Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, who is also chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, believed Lam would not resign from Leung's cabinet.

'I don't think the two roles are conflicting. I personally think that Lam's participation will increase the significance of the Equal Opportunities Commission's work,' Cheung said.

Leung said he did not think Lam was 'counting down to his resignation'.

The chief executive added: 'He is being responsible to listen to various opinions from society.'

Meanwhile, Secretary for Development Mak Chai-kwong refused to explain further his old arrangement with the assistant director of the Highways Department, Tsang King-man, on cross-leasing apartments.

The two civil servants bought flats in the same building in the 1980s and then leased them to each other while claiming rent allowance.

'Please give me some time as it is more than 20 years ago. I promise to give a thorough explanation within a week,' said Mak after appearing at a public forum in Tung Chung yesterday.

He said he had never worked in the same department as Tsang and denied the cross-leasing had anything to do with helping anyone's promotion prospects.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the public should allow Mak some time to explain before making judgments.