Mak Chai-kwong

Should Paul Chan step down? The jury is still out

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:07pm


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Hongkongers are divided on whether Paul Chan Mo-po should become the second scandal-hit development chief to quit the government in as many months.

While some believe Chan's admission that he knew a flat owned by his wife's company in Kowloon had been subdivided illegally is not 'fatal', others say he should step down, just a week after taking over when Mak Chai-kwong resigned following his arrest by graft-busters.

While Chan and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming last week denied knowing the details of the rental of a flat in Tai Kok Tsui, Chan admitted at midnight on Sunday he did know one of the flats had been sub-let, implying he also knew it was subdivided.

'Chan may not have a clear picture, but it's impossible that his wife doesn't know about it at all,' said Tai Kok Tsui resident Au Wai-kwan, 58, adding that Chan should be given time to rectify the 'small mistake'.

'The explanations [that he made] mean that he has already admitted the mistakes,' he said, referring to Chan's statement, in which he claimed his previous denial of knowledge referred only to the 'present situation' of the flats.

But others did not believe Chan's explanation and said they had lost faith in the former lawmaker.

A 30-year-old man said: 'It is exactly the same as the cross-leasing scandal committed by the former development chief [Mak], and he is definitely not suitable for the position.'

Mak was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption last month over allegations that he misused the civil service housing allowance when he and a colleague bought flats in the same building and leased them to each other in the 1980s.

A resident of the Hoi Hing Building in Tai Kok Tsui, site of a subdivided flat at the heart of the scandal, said he doubted the minister's explanation.

'It's a matter of integrity,' said 75-year-old retiree Woo Sang.

'He is obviously lying - he said he had no idea in the beginning, and suddenly backtracked [on Sunday] when more evidence pointed to him.'

Hongkongers have their say

I do not accept his reasoning and his so-called resolution. He was not eligible for his position in office even before this controversy, since he had no expertise in the field whatsoever. Now, after this controversy, he is even more unsuitable for the position.

Ronald Chan Man-kwong, 42, media practitioner

His statement is absolutely useless. It is exactly the same as the former development chief who committed cross-leasing 20 years ago. He is definitely not suitable for the position, and he should go to jail.

Mr Tse, 30, finance industry

His decision to stop all investments in the housing market is unnecessary and ineffective to solve the issue at hand.

Ms Au Yeung, 32, a former accountant

He is running away from the problem. His statement does not help with the problem. It's like he's trying to cover up his lies.

Cheng Hon-bun, 19, lifeguard

It's wrong that he, as the development chief, passed the buck to his wife, but the public should allow him some time to sort out the matter.

Ng Yee-sang, 60, a blue-collar worker

He is the development chief, so he should be the one who is most familiar with the laws and regulations concerning housing safety issues. His claim of ignorance at first is already unreasonable, and now his statement confirms him to be a liar. He should quit his position immediately.

Wai Wan-yee, 35, salesperson