Tsang agrees to remove structure
Niall Fraser and Gary Cheung
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has agreed to remove a potentially illegal structure from a flat he owns in Mid-Levels after being told to either prove it did not break the law or take it down.
In a statement issued last night, Tsang (pictured) said he would have glass panels on a balcony on the MacDonnell Road property dismantled 'to put things beyond doubt'.
His decision came after the Buildings Department sent him a letter asking him to 'take the initiative to remove the large glass panels ... or appoint an authorised person to substantiate that the works comply with the requirements of the relevant regulations'.
Pressure had been mounting on Tsang over the glass-panelled balcony after a string of his senior officials were caught with law-breaking structures on properties they own, among them Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung and Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung. Business leaders and politicians have been similarly exposed.
The latest high-level controversy piles more pressure on development chief Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to come up with a clear policy to tackle the long-standing and widespread problem as soon as possible.
Yesterday, the Buildings Department said the Mid-Levels building which houses Tsang's flat - owned through a company - was among hundreds that had been targeted in a large-scale operation to remove all immediately 'actionable' unauthorised building works in 2006.
The balcony structure that Tsang will have taken down was not deemed 'actionable' at that time but he was ordered to remove two unauthorised items and did so before being issued with a letter of compliance. It was only later that buildings officials issued the 'advisory letter' asking the chief to prove the balcony's glass panels were not in breach of the rules.
The chief executive's statement last night said: 'On the allegation against possible unauthorised building works in the property on MacDonnell Road which I own under the name of a company, I have appointed an authorised person to inspect the premises and follow up with the Buildings Department.
'To put all things beyond doubt, I have instructed the authorised person to dismantle the existing glass panels as soon as possible in accordance with the Buildings Department's advisory letter, and to follow up with the reconstruction of the verandah of the living room that meets all legal requirements.'
A government official said the demolition work would not start today as 'it might take some time to apply to the building's management office for the demolition work and make arrangements with the tenant'.
Democrat Lee Wing-tat said the Buildings Department had still not said clearly whether the balcony was illegal, while fellow Democrat James To Kun-sun said the department was using a 'polite and indirect way' to say the structure was illegal.