Leung Chun Ying

Former minister released after two days with ICAC

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am

Former development minister Mak Chai-kwong was released late last night after two days of questioning by graft-busters, as the government remained silent on his resignation and arrest for abusing civil service housing allowance in the 1980s.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to face more calls to address Mak's case when he continues his 'meet-the-people' tour of the city tomorrow and faces lawmakers in his first Legislative Council question-and-answer session on Monday.

Mak, who has been in the spotlight after it emerged he had claimed housing allowance for renting a flat from a colleague, who in turn rented Mak's whilst also claiming the allowance, a practice known as cross-leasing, was escorted back to his Mid-Levels home by ICAC investigators yesterday afternoon. He appeared in good spirits when he emerged from the Independent Commission Against Corruption's North Point headquarters to be taken to his Old Peak Road home. He stayed for less than an hour before returning to the ICAC.

Mak, assistant director of highways Tsang King-man, from whom he leased his flat, and their wives were arrested at home shortly after daybreak on Thursday on suspicion of violating the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance in relation to the government housing allowance.

Tsang left the ICAC building at around 10pm, but made no comment.

Top officials remained silent on the case as they attended official functions yesterday. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had no comment, days after expressing her support for Mak. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who moved the Buildings Legislation (Amendment) Bill in the Legislative Council in his role as acting development minister, was similarly quiet.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Kong-wah called on Leung to restore public confidence in his two-week-old administration by explaining the scandal. Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit also called on Leung to account for Mak's case, and said the chief executive should also address concern over perceived intervention in local affairs by the central government's liaison office.

Top officials are expected to continue their round of public meetings tomorrow. Leung will visit Sham Shui Po, where the League of Social Democrats, People Power and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood pledge to continue their protests.

People Power activists vowed to corner Lam when she visits Tsuen Wan, accusing her of 'misjudgment in covering up [for] Mak'.

Former National People's Congress deputy and executive council member Allen Lee Peng-fei said Leung needed to restore his credibility and urged him to stand firm on all future appointments and policies against intervention from Beijing.

'He will have a very difficult time administering Hong Kong [if he does not restore his credibility],' Lee said. 'Hongkongers will be sensitive to any backtracking on his policies.'

Lee said Leung 'cannot establish respect' and that the scandals, including not just Mak's case but also revelations about illegal structures at Leung's homes, were 'chipping away at his credibility slice by slice.'