Developer's food-hamper gifts to councillors raise eyebrows

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am

Members of the Islands District Council were offered food hampers by a Discovery Bay land developer this year, sparking concerns about possible conflicts of interest.

It is understood that Hong Kong Resort, the developer of a residential-resort complex on Lantau Island, sent hampers to many of the 22 councillors soon after the new four-year council term began in January.

Each hamper contained a bottle of red wine, a can of abalone, Chinese mushrooms and other food and snacks.

The developer's relationship with councillors is seen as sensitive because council business touches on Discovery Bay and development by the company in other parts of Lantau Island from time to time.

At the council meeting yesterday, the hamper gifts came to light during discussion about bus services to Discovery Bay and the development of Coastal Skyline, a residential site.

Civic Party councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung, who represents Discovery Bay residents, said she was aware the company had given hampers to councillors. She said she had not received one.

She said members should not have accepted the hampers as it would arouse suspicions.

'What is the intention of offering food baskets to councillors?' she asked. She said people would question whether council members had accepted an advantage that would cause them to speak in favour of the developer.

Another Civic Party councillor, Ophelia Lam Yau-han, said she had received a hamper but had returned it to avoid misunderstandings.

A Home Affairs Department spokesman said any gift worth HK$500 or more could be donated as an award or prize at events organised by the council, and councillors had been given guidelines on the acceptance of advantages, adding that they should abide by the guidelines.

Hong Kong Resort yesterday said it would need more time to look into inquiries from the South China Morning Post before responding.