Pressure rises for release of arts hub papers
The government is under growing pressure to release records relating to the 2001 arts hub design competition at the centre of the conflict-of-interest controversy involving chief executive hopeful Leung Chun-ying.
International architect Dr Ken Yeang, who is caught up in the row, and more politicians across the spectrum said the government should release its records given the confusion over Leung's role in the contest.
'The records should be released and made transparent,' the Malaysian architect, best known for his green designs, said in an e-mailed reply to the South China Morning Post.
On Saturday, the Democratic Party said it might force full disclosure by invoking the Powers and Privileges Ordinance. Chan Yuen-han, vice-president of the Federation of Trade Unions, said the government should release the records.
Asked if officials had breached their political impartiality, Chan replied: 'The government shouldn't have disclosed [information] before the election nomination period. This only brings itself trouble.'
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it was 'not good' for officials to leak information to selected newspapers as 'government sources'. 'If they want to say something, it is better to say it officially,' Tam said.
The government was accused of timing the announcement to favour Leung's main rival for chief executive, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. It said it released the confidential information only to 'answer media inquiries' and 'to protect the public interest'.
A government press release on February 8 said Leung, when serving as a juror in a 2001 design contest for the West Kowloon Cultural District, failed to declare a business connection between his firm, DTZ, and Yeang's team. The release said Leung's failure to declare interests in time resulted in Yeang's scheme being disqualified.
Leung says he did not know a DTZ director gave the local company working with Yeang's firm unpaid advice on land values. Yeang says he does not know Leung and that his staff might not have informed Leung about naming him an adviser.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Ka-kit said the piecemeal information revealed so far had created an environment conducive to Leung.
Leung yesterday renewed his call for the records to be released. Tang said it was up to Legco to decide. Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, of the Liberal Party, which supports Tang, said it would decide on the call for disclosure today.
The issue has been clouded by conflicting information over the past week: the government press release, anonymous government sources talking to some newspapers, and comments from jurors in the design contest and Yeang.
Yeang said yesterday he was told after the contest that the organisers had put his scheme into a pile categorised as 'sustainable schemes', and a juror told him that he was not given the chance to see Yeang's design. This contradicts juror Patrick Lau Sau-shing, who said all jurors were shown all the schemes, including the ones later disqualified.
Yeang again denied accusations in Apply Daily that he gave 'extended benefit' to Leung. Apple Daily said NHY, a mainland company of which Yeang is a director, took part in the same residential project in Beijing with Leung's DTZ. Yeang said he did not design the project and was unaware DTZ was its property manager.
The government did not respond to four questions from the Post. One was if then-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, as has been reported, stopped then-secretary for planning and lands John Tsang Chun-wah following up Leung's conflict-of-interest problem in the design contest.