Exco's 30 members declare their 142 properties; no wonder it took a while

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:23pm


Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung is the executive councillor with the biggest real estate portfolio - 31 properties, eight car-parking spaces and two lots under development.

The figures were revealed last night with the delayed publication of declarations of interest by the 16 officials - including the chief executive - and 14 non-official members who make up the government's top advisory body. Together, they disclosed ownership of 142 properties.

Under Exco rules, members should update their declarations of interest within 14 days of taking office, but the publication took 42 days, with the government citing new rules on declarations for the delay.

The figures show that all but one of them own at least one property, with many having more than one.

The declarations brought a warning that the government must be seen to avoid any conflict of interest when dealing with the housing market.

Li, a non-official Exco member and deputy chairman of the Bank of East Asia, owns 28 local properties and three in the UK. All except one are co-owned with his brother, the bank's chairman, David Li Kwok-po, and in some cases other siblings. His declaration did not reveal what type of properties he owned.

The second-biggest property owner on Exco is former investment banker Franklin Lam Fan-keung, a non-official member, who owns 27 properties across the city through 16 companies.

Bernard Chan owns just three properties but the president of Asia Financial Holdings is a director of 15 companies and 36 subsidiaries. Chan, another non-official member, said a couple of the companies were used for stock purchases and another was for 'buying car plates'.

There were have-nots too. Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's election campaign chief, chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority and a non-official member, owns no property and makes do with a rented home in Repulse Bay.

Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said Leung had to pay extra attention to avoid conflicts of interest, given his policy focus on housing.

'The public already has little trust in the government given the series of scandals, including the latest related to [Secretary for Development] Paul Chan Mo-po,' said Choy, of Chinese University.

'Given the heavy emphasis placed by Leung on housing policies and the huge number of properties owned by his cabinet, the public would be very sensitive if any of Leung's moves in the property market could benefit the Exco members.'

Paul Chan, caught in a scandal over subdivided flats owned by a company linked to his wife, Frieda Hui Po-min, declared ownership of one property, a home in Happy Valley; his wife owns a flat in Australia.

The chief executive declared he and his wife, Regina Tong Ching-yee, owned six properties, including two in Singapore and one in London.

Of Leung's three Hong Kong properties, two are on the Peak - the homes at the centre of a row over illegal structures - while the other is in Southern District.

The biggest property owner among ministers is Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who owns eight in the city. Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung has two homes in Hong Kong and one in Sydney. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor owns four properties, but none in Hong Kong.