Tang fails to clear doubts on illegal home structures

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am


Embattled chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen said yesterday he had appointed an 'authorised person' to act on his and his wife's behalf in dealing with illegal structures at their home. But he refused to respond to many of the unanswered questions fuelling the row.

'Once the demolition is completed, I will give a full account to the public,' Tang said at a briefing on his election platform.

He ignored questions about an illegal storage space in his basement as he read out a statement highlighting his 'undeniable responsibility' and 'negligence'.

He also declared that there was absolutely no question of 'submitting false building plans' - as had been suggested by some reports in the Chinese-language media - to cover up the illegal works.

Since the illegal works were exposed on Monday, Tang has been unable to offer a clear timeline on their construction, including whether it was his wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, who had commissioned them.

He was also unclear on when he had hired a consultant to inspect his properties for unapproved works after senior officials were told in May last year to check their properties amid a crackdown to enforce building regulations.

Tang ignored a request to open up his properties for inspection by the media, saying only that his representatives would deal with the Buildings Department directly on his behalf.

Building inspectors who wanted to inspect the neighbouring properties in Kowloon Tong owned by Tang and his wife - 5A and 7 York Road - were refused entry as the couple were not at home. The inspectors gave domestic staff at the properties a note with their contact details.

Tang's architect for the property at 7 York Road, which includes a basement structure not included in the building plan, has also come forward to clarify his role in the row.

Henry Ho Chung-yi said there was no illegal structure of any type when he transferred the property to Tang after completion.

'There was nothing illegal and we handed over our job after we obtained the occupation permit ... if there had been anything dubious, how could we get the permit?'

Ho said building and fire inspectors were satisfied with the construction after a visit. His remarks suggest the illegal structures were added around 2006 or after construction work had been completed.

Tang's main rival for the chief executive's job, Leung Chun-ying, said yesterday he did not know that a reporter from Ming Pao, which first reported on the illegal structures at Tang's home, was a distant relative of his. The newspaper said its reporting team knew of the relationship but did not think it affected the investigation.