Democrats bow on rents report

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 12:00am

Full release forced after challenge to abridged version

The Democratic Party has been forced to release the full report of the investigation it commissioned into James To Kun-sun's handling of a party office rental.

Last night's move came after two of the independent investigators challenged an extract published over the weekend.

Statements by former party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming and the panel's comments about his responsibility in the affair, contained in the full 57-page document, were omitted from the published extract.

In a joint statement issued earlier in the day, Gladys Li and Selwyn Mar, two of the three investigators, said it had been 'untrue' for the party to claim that the published extract was 'a direct copy of the report with no change in wordings whatsoever'.

'No member of the panel has been involved in any way in producing, and takes no responsibility for, the extract,' the statement said.

The unusual challenge fuelled speculation of a cover-up.

The probe was launched after Mr To and Democratic Party district councillors were accused of inflating office rent claims on a party property jointly held by him.

According to the full report released last night, Mr Lee had confessed to the panel that he was a very poor administrator.

'It was well known and accepted by all within the party that he did not concern himself with matters of administration,' the panel said in the report.

'The panel considers that the chairman cannot but be responsible for the proper administration of the party.'

Some of the evidence documented in the full report was also left out of the extract.

Mr Lee last night said he had not seen the report or the extract, but maintained he had not told the party leadership to omit the part concerning him.

Party vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan stood firm on the party's claim that the extract was a 'direct copy' of part of the report.

'Perhaps something might have been omitted because of space constraints. There must be a misunderstanding between us and Ms Li,' Mr Ho said.

The party earlier said disclosing the report in full involved legal issues, adding that those interviewed might object to their evidence being published without their consent. It instead published the 25-paragraph extract.