Ronny Tong queries auction move
Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah wrote to the government yesterday seeking clarification on whether developers might run the risk of breaking the law by allegedly being seen to join forces in bidding at land auctions.
The barrister and fair-competition campaigner said the alleged conduct might already be covered by the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
Under section seven, people are not allowed to offer, solicit or accept any advantage for refraining or having refrained from bidding at any auction conducted by or on behalf of any public body.
Mr Tong said that while there already was a law that could be used to prosecute participants in such practices, it had never been used in this way.
'If [section seven of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance] is not applicable, then I think the public is entitled to know why it is not applicable and whether the law should be amended to ensure there is fair and competitive bidding,' Mr Tong wrote in a letter to the Secretary for Justice, Wong Yan-lung, and the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Michael Suen Ming-yeung.
Mr Tong said clarification was needed since the uncertainty over what was acceptable behaviour and what was not was unfair to everyone, including property developers.
He said a pre-bidding arrangement enabling different companies to bid under the same name was an acceptable practice, but deal-making during the bidding was anti-competitive. On Tuesday, Sino Land lodged a winning bid of HK$2.11 billion for a waterfront site at Pak Shek Kok, Tai Po, after chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong was seen in discussions during the bidding with Nan Fung Development's Donald Choi Wun-hing. Nan Fung dropped out of the bidding at HK$2.1 billion.
KWah had pulled out when the bidding reached HK$2 billion.
Sino Land and Nan Fung will develop the site in a 50-50 joint luxury development set to be completed in 2010.