Lawmakers fume at Link chief's defiance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am

Legislators warned they might summon the boss of The Link Management to explain its rent policy after he refused to show up yesterday for a Legislative Council panel meeting considering the issue.

The housing panel passed a motion expressing regret at the absence of The Link's chief executive officer, Victor So Hing-woh, and requested him to attend the panel's next meeting.

Democratic Party lawmakers and their allies warned they might invoke the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to summon Mr So if he continued to defy the panel. In a letter to the panel, Mr So cited results of polls conducted by his company that showed 90 per cent of interviewees believed its actions had benefited residents. He said its rent policy was no business of legislators.

'We always handle leasing-related matters along prudent commercial principles. We hope you will understand that rental adjustments being matters between our company and tenants, it is inappropriate for our company to publicly discuss related matters in detail,' Mr So wrote in his letter.

It is the second time he has rejected calls by legislators to discuss how The Link manages the car parks and shopping malls it took over from the Housing Authority.

There have been complaints about big rent rises and the laying off of cleaners and security staff. Last month, scores of doctors and shopkeepers operating on public estates in Wong Tai Sin demonstrated against rent rises. Doctors also complained they were being forced to move their surgeries to remote corners of shopping centres.

Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said: 'The Link is a private business. But its policies can affect many tenants. Many companies, like Hongkong Electric or Disneyland, send representatives to answer legislators' questions. Why does The Link think it does not need to do so?'

Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, warned he might press for senior Link managers to appear before the panel regularly and report on its work.